The value of a good umbrella

Normal, Weekender

Wherever NGOs get together under one umbrella NGO, the benefits soon become obvious, proving the point that there’s strength in numbers, writes SCARLETT TRUDE EPSTEIN

LAST year, in my Scarlett’s Letters, I referred to the various problems facing many of PNG’s Non Government Organisations (NGO) and suggested that many could be solved through the establishment of an umbrella PNG NGO.
We certainly touched a raw nerve! PEGS-PNG was almost swamped under the tide of responses to the idea. We were even invited to present a one hour radio programme to explain how it could work.
The upshot is that we’ve been able to establish a network relationship with a host of PNG NGOs who were very keen to get involved. PEGS PNG itself is an unusual NGO in as much as it’s closely linked with PEGS-UK which is composed of a core team of communication experts with complementary skills, keen and willing to share with their counterparts in developing countries. It has published a series of widely used and well reviewed manuals and has conducted training workshops in many developing countries including PNG.
PEGS-UK has found that wherever NGOs get together under the one umbrella NGO, the benefits soon become obvious, proving the point that there’s strength in numbers! That’s why PEGS-PNG wanted to introduce the initiative into PNG.
Already, numerous PNG NGOs have told us of the problems they face trying to provide badly needed services in remote areas outside the government’s reach. Most of these NGOs are also short of funds and are forced to operate on shoestring budgets. Individually, they often lack the expertise to make the best use of their resources. A lot of time has been wasted putting together funding applications that have failed, and donor agencies could have been a lot more helpful by advising applicants as to who is likely to succeed and who isn’t.
In turn, it’s caused us at PEGS-PNG to realise that a new system is needed, one that rationalises the present arrangements and relationships existing between the PNG NGO on the one hand and the donor community, and government ministries, and expatriate donor agencies on the other hand. Before this can be set up, there needs to be a brainstorming meeting where all the representatives can gather to share their ideas on how best to set up a new system so that the people of PNG can really benefit from the advice and services it desperately needs.
PEGS-PNG is now planning to organise such a brainstorming meeting at UPNG in the near future.
The outcome has to be a system that’s not only cost effective but which also streamlines our various efforts to provide the socially desirable services and facilities that are so urgently needed.
For the brainstorming meeting to be successful, we need ideas and energies that provide openings for all. I’m inviting all who can and want to provide a fresh blueprint to make contact with Mr Paul Hukahu, our PEGS-PNG Director. He can be emailed at [email protected]  or phoned at Mob 71208244. Let’s get going!