The Foreign Ministry's decision on program-based support for civil society organizations cuts a fifth of Kepa's financing in the next four years. The cuts affect Kepa's southern partners, as the Ministry requires country offices to be closed quickly, by the end of June.
Activities in the South had to be reduced already due to previous cuts in support in 2015. As a result, Kepa closed its offices in Nicaragua and the Mekong region, and reduced recourses in Tanzania and Mozambique.
Kepa has operated in the South for over 30 years: activities in Mozambique and Tanzania started in 1991 and 1997, respectively. Initially, Kepa’s country offices were tasked to support Finnish development aid actors and organizations. Since then, their work has concentrated on strengthening democracy and civil society and consolidating good governance. In addition, the country offices in the South have worked on mitigation of climate change, prevention of tax avoidance, and promoting corporate responsibility.
According to the evaluation published in 2017, Kepa's cooperation with the local organizations in the South has been well justified and appreciated by the partners. Kepa’s work and its partners in Tanzania and Mozambique support in many ways the countries’ citizens and communities to demand their rights.
A recent example is the problematic mining sector in Tanzania, where Tax Justice Coalition, supported by Kepa, has successfully advocated the country’s mining law. In addition, ADLG, a Tanzanian NGO, has assembled a local community to demand responsibility from mining companies. These activities have had an impact – for example, a Chinese company dug wells, which are important to the locals in the area.
According to Outi Hannula, Kepa's Programme Director, "Our partners have the spirit and the will to fight for a just world, but it is indeed difficult to get financing for advocacy work which aims at supporting democratic societies and good governance. That is why Kepa's financial and professional support has been crucial to our partners. Thanks to our modus operandi, Kepa has been more than just a financier to our partners." Altogether seven country office employees will lose their jobs
“Shutting down the offices is in many ways regrettable and sad. Several country office employees have worked for Kepa for years, some even from the very start. The organization loses with them a vast amount of understanding of the realities, challenges, solutions and best practices in the developing countries.”
Due to the previous cuts in financing in 2015, Kepa was forced to significantly scale down its activities. For example, Etvo, a voluntary program of the South, as well as the civic engagement training program were ended.
This year Foreign Ministry's program support increased funding for some civil society organizations, but the decisions caused significant reduction of activities also for other organizations. For example, Frikyrklig Samverkan, an umbrella organization founded in 1936, has to run down its whole development cooperation programme. Cuts in financing brought bad news also to Siemenpuu Foundation, whose financing will drop 40 percent from last year, forcing it withdraw from India where it has supported the indigenous peoples' battle for land ownership rights.
Kepa is an expert umbrella organization representing more than 300 organization working in development cooperation and global education. Kepa supports its member organizations by providing training and advisory services to improve the quality and effectiveness of their development cooperation and global education. Kepa publishes Maailman Kuvalehti magazine and, in cooperation with other civil society organizations, co-hosts the World Village Festival and events all around Finland. Currently Kepa has 48 employees and the Foreign Ministry supports its activities with 3,2 million euros.
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