Accountability to targeted beneficiaries: a survey of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Northern Kenya
Accountability is to stakeholders and it is a process. Organizations make a commitment to respond to the needs of its stakeholders in all its activities and processes. This study focused on the nature and extent of accountability to targeted beneficiaries, with a focus on NGOs that work in northern Kenya. The conceptual framework adopted for this study is the GAP (Global Accountability Project) model which considers accountability to have four dimensions. These are transparency, participation, evaluation, and complaint and response mechanisms. The model asserts that to be accountable, an organization needs to integrate these four dimensions into its policies, procedures and practices, at all levels and stages of decision-making and implementation, in relation to both internal and external stakeholders. The research question that this survey sought to explore is the extent to which NGOs in Northern Kenya are accountable to their targeted beneficiaries and the challenges they face in this. The study is hinged on the premise that one cannot separate the process of governance and importance of stakeholders. Based on this, stakeholders need to be well identified and strategies developed to take care of their varied interests if the NGO is to be effective in its operations. The research adopted a survey where forty (40) NGOs were given questionnaires and the result was that twenty six (26) were filled and returned. The results of the survey showed that the NGOs are aware of the importance of stakeholders and that they do view the community as a major stakeholder. Despite this level of awareness, the research reveals that the level of accountability towards these stakeholders is still quite low. Several reasons have been cited as to how come they are unable to be fully accountable to the communities they serve. The limitation of the study was that the area chosen was vast and so face to face interviews could not be done and hence the data collection was only via questionnaires. The suggestion for further research is on the role of other actors such as government, international NGOs and other development practitioners can play in helping local NGOs set quality standards for accountability.