26 CSOs Awarded Quality Assurance Certificates

26 civil society organisations (CSOs) including, CBOs, local NGOs and international NGOs were awarded quality assurance certificates after undergoing a successful assessment by the NGO Quality Assurance Certification Mechanism (QuAM).  The award ceremony which took place at Hotel Africana in Kampala on 7th August 2014, was attended by representatives from civil society organisations, development partners, the NGO Board and the media.

QuAM is a self-assessment initiative developed by CSOs  working in Uganda to promote their adherence to generally acceptable ethical standards and operational norms, to enhance their credibility and effectiveness in what they do, while being publicly accountable to their constituencies as they contribute to improved service delivery in the country. The DGF is providing financial support to QuAM. Close to USD 400.000,- has been granted for a 3-year period (2013-16).

Prof. J.B Kwesiga, the Chairperson of QuAM National Council noted, in his welcoming remarks, that QuAM is necessary because it imparts value on the work of civil society organisations, such as the value of quality service delivery, good governance, and legitimacy, among others. He pointed out that QuAM certification gives a moral basis for CSOs to challenge other actors and to contribute to the debate on quality governance and accountability in various sectors of national development.

Ms Jane Nakintu, the Chairperson of the DENIVA Board, encouraged as many CSOs as possible to go through the QuAM process, because it makes them walk the talk by being accountable for their actions. She was happy to note that organisations that have gone through the QuAM assessment and certification process have shown a difference in the way they operate.

Dr Winnie Tarinyeba Kiryabwire, the Vice Chair of QuAM National Council, emphasised that it is time for CSOs to become exemplary in their work by being accountable. She implored the organisations that have attained QuAM certification to mentor others that are still weak in various aspects.

Ms Aidah Mehangye, a Board member for the National NGO Forum noted that the QuAM idea which began as a humble initiative, has grown to bear fruits.  She was happy that a number of organisations have been certified in the past, and others were going to receive their QuAM certificates.

Amb. Gabriel Kangwagye, the Chairperson of the Uganda NGO Board, who also represented the Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. Aronda Nyakairima, said that the NGO Board respects the QuAM certification process, and congratulated those who were going to receive their certificates. He appreciated that the self-assessment initiative was an important innovation for the civil society sector in Uganda, which had operated for long without a self-policing mechanism.

He pointed out that although the Ministry of Internal Affairs through the NGO Board is responsible for monitoring the conduct of CSOs, they have not been able to effectively execute this responsibility because of lack of resources.  Therefore, the Ministry and the NGO Board are happy that CSOs initiated the QUaM certification arrangement.  He noted that with the increasing numbers of CSOs, the QuAM certification exercise should be prompted more to reach as many of them as possible to ensure that they operate in line with acceptable ethical standards and norms. He said that as a Ministry they would like to see a high quality NGO Sector that is able to effectively and efficiently compliment Government in providing services needed by citizens.

Lars P. Christensen, the Head of Programme at the DGF said that the DGF was happy to support the QuAM because it is a unique intervention for quality assurance in Uganda initiated and managed by the civil society itself. He further pointed out that the DGF is happy with the fact that the QuAM has developed a communication strategy and a website; has trained people to promote it; and has set up QUAM assessment committees in many districts around the country to reach out to many CSOs.

He, however, noted that the number of CSOs certified at present is still low considering the amount of resources that have been invested in the initiative.  He challenged the QuAM Council and all its promoters to have many CSOs certified in the next two years of DGF Funding to justify the investment as reasonable.  He recommended that there should be an external review of the credibility of the QuAM process, and an evaluation to find out whether there is any impact caused by QuAM Certification to organisations that go through the process.

Does QuAM Certification Add Any Value to Organisations?

Donald Katalihwa the Executive Director of KIND UGANDA, one of the organisations that were certified, revealed that they were inspired to participate in the QuAM assessment because it is a credible process that has been recognised by the NGO Board. “QuAM provides equal opportunity and consideration to all organisations regardless of whether they are small or big, as long as they are interested in the process... As an organisation, we were also interested in having strong internal control systems, and the QuAM assessment process enabled us to identify our internal gaps.” he noted, adding that by going through the assessment and certification process, their organisation has been challenged to keep the sound ethical and operational standards in order to walk the talk, and they have been able to fill the gaps that were identified, by learning from other organisations that had been assessed and certified.

Donald, however, noted that the loose end in the whole process is that after the assessments, there is no follow-up mechanism to check whether certified organisations continue to adhere to the good ethical and operational standards after sometime.  “QuAM should put in place a follow up arrangement to ensure that certified NGOs continuously live up to the expected standards.” he recommended.