Amfo-funding ends: NGO’s on the ropes

POSTED: 01/8/13 11:47 AM

St. Maarten – Without continued financing from the Antillean co-financing organization Amfo – or from alternative sources – the majority of the sixteen NGO-projects in St. Maarten would have to reduce their current activities to 30 percent. “Without a solution the social infrastructure will suffer severely,” Amfo General Manager Reinoudt Karsdorp said in February of last year at a meeting with representatives of non-governmental organizations at the Belvedere Community Center. By now, the amfo-funds have dried up and the NGO’s are facing a new and grim reality.

Amfo financed sixteen projects of non-governmental organizations in St. Maarten to the tune of 5 million guilders ($2.77 million) a year. At the end of last year the Amfo-funding ended, but St. Maarten does not have the resources to take over this financial burden.

Karsdorp said last year that the projects help 4,900 citizens, and that there are 150 jobs at stake. “Without proper funding the majority of NGO’s would cease to exist, and the social infrastructure will suffer. In the end this will affect the quality of life in St. Maarten.”

Amfo came up with several ideas to prevent a total collapse of the NGO-projects. The first idea was to ask the Netherlands to decrease Amfo-funding gradually by 30 percent a year after 2012, while St. Maarten would at the same time increase its financial support for the projects. “Together they would maintain a funding level of 5 million guilders per year,” Karsdorp explained.

Then Amfo suggested St. Maarten to participate for 20 percent in the 2012 budget (for an amount of 923,000 guilders or close to $512,800) and for Amfo to spread the resulting surplus over projects for 2013.

The Dutch Ministry of Home Affairs was ready to agree with this plan on the condition that St. Maarten confirmed its commitment to contribute 923,000 guilders this year. But in the meantime St. Maarten has decided to set up its own funding agency.

“Amfo is prepared to share its resources and its expertise to make this independent funding agency a reality,” Karsdorp said at the time.

Amfo surveyed the sixteen projects to get a handle on their situation after 2012. It appeared that ten of the sixteen projects did not have any other source for funding than Amfo. “The best NGO had 50 percent of its current budget secured and that came from the government of St. Maarten,” Karsdorp said. “Most of them have maybe 20 to 30 percent of their budget covered for 2013, and not a single NGO has a one hundred percent solution for 2013. Most would have to diminish their activity-levels to 30 percent.”

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