By CAROL MATROO Monday, May 21 2012
Every organisation needs to be held accountable to the stakeholders that they serve and there should be proper systems in place to ensure that this is done.
The “Civil Society Accountability: Principles and Practice–A toolkit for civil society organisations in Trinidad and Tobago”, explores what accountability means for civil society organisations (CSOs).
The toolkit was developed by the Commonwealth Foundation and the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI). The aim of the toolkit was to identify common principles of accountability for CSOs in TT; highlight how CSOs currently demonstrated good accountability practice and also provide good practice standards and; provide practical steps that CSOs could use to realise their accountability.
According to programme manager at TTTI, Alana Wheeler, there was need to have systems in place to be accountable to somebody.
“We are accountable to our stakeholders, the communities that we serve and our members, our board and in some cases, Government organisations. We are accountable to persons and it is important that we have proper systems in place.
“There were groups with no boards, no chief executive officers, no executive director…you have groups with two people, five people, 200 people, 600 people…it’s a wide span,” Wheeler told an audience of members of NGOs and other interest groups during a one-day workshop for CSOs at the Institute of International Relations, University of the West Indies, St Augustine, on Saturday. Wheeler said the toolkit was a product that had been developed in the past, but this was very specific to TT. Consultations with about 30 CSOs began in March 2010 and ended on July 2011.
The toolkit was a basic business model that had been modified for use by NGOs, civil society groups, women’s groups, private sectors, social sector, and even university groups.
The toolkit gave special emphasis to CSO umbrella organisations and what accountability meant to them.
Wheeler said the workshop was an opportunity to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the CSOs and also helped to identify the gaps the organisations needed to fill.
‘There may be financial needs, funding after refunding, and also giving a framework for the actual planning,” she said.
Wheeler said the toolkit was available online at no cost.
“There is nothing attached to accessing this toolkit or to using it. If anybody ever charges you for this toolkit, or for products from this toolkit, please report them to us and we will deal with it,” Wheeler said.
She said another workshop would be held in South Trinidad in the next two weeks.