May 06, 2011

Who are NGOs accountable to? This is a question often asked by many along with the allegation that NGOs are self-appointed advocates and unelected bodies claiming more space in the policy discourse than what is rightfully due to them.

NGOs are accountable to their membership; to their development partners; to their auditors and government auditors where their moneys come from government sources and so on. Most importantly, they are accountable to the constituency which they serve.

In order to benchmark NGOs for good practices and norms Credibility Alliance has been accrediting NGOs for many years through a vigorous exercise. Credibility Alliance is a consortium of voluntary organisations committed towards enhancing accountability and transparency in the voluntary sector through good governance.

Some of the NGOs which have been accredited by Credibility Alliance include: GiveIndia (Mumbai); HelpAge India (New Delhi); Partners in Change (New Delhi); DISHA (New Delhi); Blind People’s Association (Ahmedabad).

The Jaipur-based Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS International) has just been granted accreditation by Credibility Alliance’s Desirable Norms. The accreditation is valid for five years, i.e. April 29, 2011 to April 28, 2016.

Established in 1983, CUTS International is an international NGO working out of Jaipur, Chittorgarh, Kolkata in India; with affiliates in Lusaka, Zambia; Nairobi, Kenya; Hanoi, Vietnam and Geneva, Switzerland. Broadly, it works on trade, regulatory and governance issues through the tools of research, advocacy and networking.

Since its establishment CUTS International has practiced a high standard of transparency and accountability, which includes putting all its financial statements and ‘projects under a glance’ on its website at: Such transparency is a rare practice, even among NGOs.