Seminar for Financial Risk Management and Fraud Mitigation

On the first day, Belgian ambassador Hugo Verbist was present to kick off the seminar with a small speech © Hannelore Martens

On 22nd and 23rd of May 2018, Protos Great Lakes, as lead organization for the Belgian Non-Governmental Agencies (BNGAs), organized, together with the Belgian Embassy and Enabel, a 2 days fundamentals training on Financial Risk Management and Fraud Mitigation for all Belgian actors in Uganda (united in the Joint Strategic Framework) and their local partners. This training was the starting event for the learning trajectory on risk management for the Joint Strategic Framework.

On the first day, Belgian ambassador Hugo Verbist was present to kick off the seminar with a small speech, outlining the current, alarming situation in Uganda (151st position on the Transparency International Index). To map out the current situation on financial risk management within the participating organizations and to track future changes, the participants took a baseline questionnaire before the beginning of the training. The results showed that 78% of the partakers already experienced exposure to fraud, but only 31% had an official anti-fraud policy. Similar percentages could be found for other mitigating tools: incentives to communicate fraud (only 38 % knew who to talk to), signing a Code of Conduct (only 34 %), sufficient procurement control (only 44 % agreed that current system was adequate).

During the two days, the participants were trained in: utilization of the risk matrix, fraud management, transparency, project design, beneficiary accountability and (digital) mitigation tools,… There was enough time for everybody to share their experiences on the matter. After each day, the participants were asked to evaluate the trainings and share some insights they gained:

  • “I was surprised to learn that Uganda ranked so badly on the fraud in cash management.”
  • “I wish more training on the same topic, all of us need to embrace and practice transparency”
  • “I wish to say no to fraud as an example in my organization”

To fully benefit from most of the BNGAs and their partners being together at the same place, there was also a networking event on the first day, sponsored by the Belgian Embassy.

The end of this productive two-day seminar was marked with the signing of a joint anti-fraud statement in the presence of the Belgian Embassy. This statement will be delivered to the Belgian Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, to share the strong common message.

In addition an online Google Drive space, containing all the training information, was created, together with a WhatsApp group where questions can be asked and experiences can be shared regarding the topic of the training.

To keep the process going, different possibilities are now being considered. A training toolkit could be developed, and a training of trainers could be organized so that more people can be reached. After some months the progress on the engagements of the different organizations could be measured and a comparison with the baseline could be made. A general evaluation could be done of the different risk assessments BNGAs have for their ongoing programs. Based on this work a list of ‘common risks’ could be scoped and joint strategies for mitigation could be drafted.