Delegates to the 19th National Conference on External Affairs meet each other on the sidelines of the event (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Representatives from the Departments of External Affairs of localities nationwide have shared their experience in calling for resources from foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to serve local socio-economic development.

At the 19th National Conference on External Affairs hosted by Hanoi on August 12, Mai Thuc, Vice Chairman of the central province of Quang Tri said that the nature of NGOs’ assistance has changed from “giving-receiving” to development cooperation.

He said that Quang Tri, facing many difficulties and severe war aftermaths, has received support from NGOs, becoming one of the leading localities in the number of foreign NGO-funded projects.

The province has set up partnership with more than 40 foreign NGOs. In 2016-2017, the province managed to call for 81 projects with total committed capital of 39 million USD.

Thuc held that relations with foreign NGOs need more attention, as their support provides an important resource for development. He suggested building full legal framework for the reception and management of the resources, thus creating favourable conditions for agencies and organisations to expand international cooperation.

NGOs should be seen as partners instead of sponsors, he said, pointing to the need for enhancing the role of locals in foreign NGOs-funded projects.

Thuc proposed that the Foreign Ministry coordinate with the Ministry of Planning and Investment as well as other relevant agencies to complete the Government’s Decree 12 on the registration and management of foreign NGOs’ operations in Vietnam as well as Decree 93 on regulations of managing and using aids from foreign NGOs.

At the same time, Vietnamese representatives abroad should make foreign NGOs affairs one of their regular tasks, thus increasing the sharing and provision of information with foreign NGOs and supporting the NGOs to connect with localities at home.

At the conference, Nguyen Thuy Anh, Vice Director of Da Nang’s Department of External Affairs said in 2017, the city drew 134 billion VND in aid from foreign NGOs. One of the major projects funded by the organisations was the 3.8 million USD “One Sky Da Nang,” an international kindergarten for children of workers in local industrial parks invested by the US’s Half the Sky Foundation.

Anh said that the city’s leaders have sought ways to attract more support from business based in the city by calling for their corporate social responsibility.

Municipal agencies have also worked to approach NGOs and provide them with information of areas need supporting, she added.

Commenting on foreign NGO affairs over the past years, Vice President and General Secretary of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations Don Tuan Phong said that the national programme on mobilizing support from foreign NGOs has provided clear guidelines for foreign NGOs on priorities and needs of Vietnam’s ministries, sectors and localities.

In the 1996-2017 period, foreign NGOs provided Vietnam with over 4.1 billion USD in capital, helping the country cope with socio-economic difficulties, especially in poverty reduction and sustainable development.

Phong said that although Vietnam has become a low middle-income country, Vietnam has still faced many difficulties and challenges, including war consequences, diverse disadvantaged groups such as the poor, Agent Orange/dioxin victims, the disabled, and people from ethnic minority groups and remote areas, along with the development gaps among regions, climate change and cross-border changes.

The challenges show that the country continues to need support from foreign NGOs in the role of partners, stated Phong.-VNA