Thread: Simon Wood
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:18 PM   #16
Join Date: Apr 2009
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I'd like to know if this is the same guy. I don't think it is, because that would make Simon Wood another Jimmy Savile...
Simon Wood
Employment History

Business Manager
British Airways

Vice President Information Technology Americas
British Airways

Board Memberships and Affiliations
Board Member
British Airways Employees Federal Credit Union

But there is a link here under web references that's cached to Pedopilot Simon. I'm going to post the whole article in case Zoominfo loses the link. - 11 Sept 2005
Losing faith in charity

By Maore Ithula

Only about 3,000 of the more than 13,000 charitable organisations in Kenya face any kind of regulation. And even that is very weak. How can we be sure that the money we give to charity is spent on the needy?

Fake charities have been part of Kenya's landscape for many years. They were most visible two years ago when a feeding frenzy in Aids spending led to millions of shillings being lost. The National Aids Control Council, the body that coordinates the government's anti-Aids campaign, reported that they had financed four groups that turned out to be fraudulent. The four lost their financing and ten others were investigated. The government also suspended several dozen Aids charities for "not properly documenting their spending".

The debacle put a spotlight on the inability of the oversight bodies to keep an eye on the activities of charities in Kenya. There are at least 3,100 registered non-governmental organisations in Kenya, more than ten times the number in 1995. They handle more than Sh70 billion, raised from local and foreign donors, every year. A further 10,000 or so charitable organisations are registered at the Attorney General's Chambers under the Societies Act. These are not subject to the NGO council code of ethics and operate with little regulation.

Many play a crucial role in providing social and economic welfare services that the government cannot deliver. However, with oversight bodies unable to even verify the legitimacy of many of them, is there any way to monitor how efficient they are? Could waste rival fraud as the single largest obstacle to charity in Kenya? And if it did, is there any way to know?

The NGO Coordination Bureau -- a parastatal under the Office of the Vice President -- is charged with registering, monitoring and regulating the finance management of such organisations. However, the bureau operates under recommendations from the National Council of NGOs, a self-regulating body for the organisations.

Reports available from the Bureau indicate that the African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref) and Oxfam GB top the list of NGOs in Kenya with each controlling more than Sh1 billion every year. ActionAid (K) and Care International are ranked next, with each handling over Sh500 million every year. Credible organisations like these have little trouble convincing individual and corporate donors in Kenya or abroad to make donations to their charitable efforts. At the lower end of the scale, however, are less well-known bodies - children's homes, charitable trusts, disease-specific funds etc - whose approach to raising and spending funds is a lot less transparent.

There are also many societies that occasionally raise funds through various activities like walks, go-kart races, concerts, competitions and the like but are rarely accountable for them.

Only two months ago, the Nairobi Street Children Rehabilitation Centre in Kayole was caught in a nasty public row with one of its benefactors. The scandal involved the home's 22 children allegedly going hungry and suffering all manner of skin diseases for lack of proper care. This was despite sufficient donations from local and foreign benefactors.

Simon Wood, a British Airways pilot who was the main fundraiser for the centre told The Standard that he was convinced money donated to the project was being misused.

"I am certain that my efforts are in vain because the funds are going to line personal pockets instead of benefiting the poor children," he said.

The centre, which was also called Mama Lucy's Home, was run by its founder, Lucy Ndemo. Amazingly, she took it all as a simple business disagreement.

"I have been in this business for 14 years," she said when the allegations surfaced, "and these wazungu want to snatch it from me maliciously."

The scandal led to key donors withdrawing support for the project and some of the children being taken to other institutions. Wood took three of the older children to a neighbouring primary school amid protests from Ndemo who wanted the teenagers to remain in a nursery class in the home.

Learning at the home never went beyond nursery. Children seeking education outside the home said they went without breakfast and were victimised. Wood also said he had originally been told that the children were HIV/Aids orphans but later learnt otherwise.

A number of things he had raised funds for - the hiring of a teacher, clothing and other sanitary accessories, food etc - were not provided for the children. Children interviewed independently confirmed some of Wood's accusations.

Sometimes the failure to use funds for the purpose intended is accidental. Last year, for example, a group of Nairobi round-tablers organised a go-kart race to raise funds for charity. As the volunteers returned to their day jobs, nobody bothered to work out how much money had been raised and send it to the charity they had settled on. A year later, the money was still sitting in the organisation's bank account and the group was worrying about their credibility with corporate donors.

Henry Ochido, programme manager at the NGOs Coordination Bureau, says most of the trouble with stillborn NGOs is in HIV/Aids work. "In the recent past, the National Aids Control Council has been the milk cow. But with persistent media reports on corruption surrounding such projects, the council has become more meticulous in assessing the organisations they fund."

That is not to say that there haven't been fraudulent organisations in other areas of charity work. Several hundred have been suspended in the last few years for failing to account for funds.

"We demand annual returns from every NGO as required by the code of ethics developed by the National Council of NGOs," Ochido says. "All organisations that receive Sh1 million and above must submit audited accounts every year. The reports state how much money was received in the preceding year, giving a clear breakdown of how the funds were spent." Smaller NGOs fill a standard form -- known as 'Form 14' -- that provides a similar breakdown.

The Bureau also engages field inspectors who confirm the existence and state of projects listed in NGO reports, as well as experts who evaluate the projects to determine whether they are reflected accurately in these statements. As this team is quite small, they are only able to inspect a few NGOs each year. The Bureau then submits a report on every NGO to the National Council.

"In the report we indicate any areas that seem to flout the (code of ethics)," Ochido says. "We then demand a recommendation to strike off the errant organisation from the register. This is how it is done based on the assumption that NGOs are independent of government interference and that their managers are members of the society whose integrity is beyond dispute."

Last year, two large organisations were struck off the register for failing to account for donor cash. "They had not submitted their returns although records indicated receipt of substantial amounts of money," says Ochido.

Stephen Kirimi, the acting Chairman of the NGO council, says the rapid increase in NGO numbers has made things difficult for the council.

"The council has no powers to punish deviant members," he says. "Neither does the NGO Coordination Act allow us to conduct regular one-to-one inspections on members. We only rely on what the Bureau tells us. Most of the time we get reports of mismanagement of resources from disgruntled sources within the errant NGO." Kirimi says neither the council nor the Bureau has the power to prosecute errant managers whether or there is evidence against them or not. "The law only allows the donor to take managers of NGOs to a civil court. The harshest punishment that can be meted against an errant NGO is deregistration, period."

It is not surprising that the number of charitable organisations have outgrown the regulatory mechanisms. Several factors have contributed to this explosion: they include globalisation, the end of the Cold War and the introduction of IMF and World Bank-recommended structural adjustment programmes in developing countries. Escalating poverty and unemployment compound the matter further. There are no more unlimited foreign donor funds to support welfare services to the poor in developing countries. This has left a vacuum, which the civil society has rushed in to fill. "In Kenya, for instance, crucial services like education and health are mainly offered by NGOs in... marginal areas where infrastructure is alien," Ochido says. The key areas they are actively involved in are child welfare, HIV/Aids, education, gender equality, caring for the old and poverty eradication among others.

If a donor or any interested individual or organisation wanted access to a report on any NGO, they are required to write a signed request letter to the bureau and pay a non-refundable search fee of Sh2,000. "It is unfortunate that we cannot offer this service for free currently," says Ochido. "However the bureau is computerising its record system so that one can access this information from anywhere in the world."

When it comes to how efficiently NGOs use the funds given to them, the oversight bodies count on donors to rein in the charities. In most cases, Ochido says, those supporting a particular organisation give specific conditions on how their funds are to be spent.

"Most donors want a maximum of 15 per cent of their money to be spent on administrative expenses," he says. "This is a provision that must be met by the organisation and be reflected in their annual reports, failure to which action is taken." Individual charities also have specific requirements in their constitutions against which their annual reports are checked.

While frauds exist, there are a number of factors that keep them down to a minimum. Starting an NGO, for instance, is not as easy as one might imagine.

"The biggest challenge is getting donors to support the programme," Ochido says. "The NGO sector is currently very competitive. Just as an employer will demand work experience even from a fresh graduate, donors demand from every NGO proof of experience in the proposed area. They want to put their money where there already exists a community service activity. Therefore, it becomes an uphill task for a new NGO to secure any donations."

Foreign donors are also more likely to support an organisation registered with the NGO Coordination Bureau. Without input from the Bureau, Ochido says, it can take NGOs months to secure tax-exempt status or to arrange work permits for expatriates. Registering with the NGO Coordination Bureau costs Sh22,000 for international charity organisations and Sh11,000 for local bodies.

Thousands of charitable organisations choose to register under the Societies Act instead. It is these organisations that the Kenyan donor often deals with. So the next time you're out there walking for charity, running for charity or sending in your money, you might want to ask some tough questions. Because nobody else will.

Here's Simon Wood's Kenyan contact
The centre, which was also called Mama Lucy's Home, was run by its founder, Lucy Ndemo. Amazingly, she took it all as a simple business disagreement.
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