NGOs getting richer in the name of conservation

NGOs getting richer in the name of conservation

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Ghafoor Khan*

The Ministry of Climate Change has been granted a 4.6 million dollar project by UNDP/GEF for snow leopard conservation project in GB and Chitral regions of Pakistan. The total amount comes to about 50 crores in Pakistani rupees. This project is being given to a Islamabad based NGO, which will implement it in assistance with the government of Pakistan. The project is yet another example of how local NGOs are taking money from International NGOs like UNDP and wasting on activities that will not benefit the snow leopards or the farmers, who bear the actual cost of conservation, but these NGOs and government staff. Take for example how his 4.6 million dollars will be spent. About 3.6 million dollars or about 80% of the money will be spent on planning, upgrading Protected Areas and international cooperation. Only one million dollar, or about 20%, will be used for compensating farmers and building predator proof corrals. Even here, the full one million will not be spent on insurance and corral improvement, rather half of this amount will be spent on education awareness etc, that is, money will be given to NGO consultants. What is interesting is that out of 4.6 million dollars about 1.8 million are earmarked for preparation of “Three Model Landscape level management plans” and “Ten integrated valley management plans.”

So, about 20 crores will be spent on planning with no money for implementation. This means that at the end of the project the NGO will produce a three landscape level documents and ten valley level documents. The readers will be reminded that this is the same area where in the early 2000s UNDP/GEF implemented a project called Mountain Areas Conservancy Project (MACP) under which Six Conservancy level management plans were developed and about 24 valley level management plans were made.

In a nutshell, 1.8 million dollars or almost 20 crores will be spent on producing more plans. This means that UNDP/GEF and NGO like SLF will be repeating the same activity and charging almost two million dollars for it. This is a wasteful use of precious international money.

It is also important to know that no local community was involved in the preparation of this project. As we have seen in the case of incident that happened in Misgar last week, that snow leopards kill farmers’ domestic livestock but government and NGO’s refuse to give compensation.

NGOs and government just do planning  and displace the real cost of conservation onto the local communities. When local communities complain about snow leopard depredation, the Government threatens them with FIR. It is time that NGOs stop obtaining international funds in the name of conservation and planning and enriching themselves. The matter should be looked at by the GB legislative assembly that why in the name of the citizens of GB, local NGOs are becoming rich. We need less money for planning and more money for funding the activities that are planned.

*Pen name. The author of this post has requested anonymity. 

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Pamir Times is the pioneering community news and views portal of Gilgit – Baltistan, Kohistan, Chitral and the surrounding mountain areas. It is a voluntary, not-for-profit, non-partisan and independent venture initiated by the youth.