Top NGO's brace for wide scale layoffs
The four largest Dutch development aid organizations - Oxfam Novib, Icco, Hivos and Cordaid - will be laying off between a quarter and half of their employees due to budget cuts. They will also be withdrawing from a number of countries in which they are currently active, the Volkskrant reports.
Minister Lilianne Ploumen of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation announced the cuts earlier this year. From January 1st 2016 the development aid organizations will be losing more than 80 percent of their government subsidy, going from about 50 million euros per year to between 7 and 15 million euros per year.
The Minister wants to limit subsidies to initiatives that helps people in third world countries defend their rights - something she calls "lobbying and advocacy". She therefore largely stopped the subsidy for normal development, such as helping small farmers in Africa break into the local market. She called the cuts "painful". But according to Ploumen, the world has changed and the importance of official development funds for the development of a country is decreasing. "It is also no longer the only funding stream", she said when she presented the new policy, according to the Volkskrant. "Businesses now contribute in many ways. The concept of development aid will eventually disappear."
This translates into layoffs for the four large development aid organizations. Hivos will be laying off 50 of its 145 employees at the Dutch office, Oxfam Novib will be laying off about 75 of its 325, Cordaid 69 of its 250 and Icco will lose 175 of its 350 employees. The organizations will also stop funding to projects all over the world next year. Hivos will be withdrawing support from, among others, a project to stop female genital mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan - a project that is internationally regarded as successful. Icco is withdrawing from South Africa, Colombia, Peru and Brazil. Oxfam Novib is stopping all initiatives in Bangladesh, Rwanda, Sudan and Zimbabwe.
According to the four development aid organizations, focusing only on lobbying and advocacy is a risky strategy. "You only have legitimacy to lobby and advocate for something if you're already active in the place", Marinus Verweij, director of Icco, said to the Volkskrant. "Otherwise it is not credible."