By Iliasu Adam
BBC Africa Live, Northern Ghana
Hundreds of non-governmental organisations operating in Ghana will be blacklisted at the end of March, if they cannot provide an adequate record of their activities.
Most NGOs work towards improving health and literacy
Kojo Amoakwe, Chief Director of the Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment, explained to BBC Africa Live! that there are 3,000 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the country and only 150 have submitted their annual reports and statements of accounts to the Social Welfare Department.
This is required by law.
"Most NGOs spend around 80% of the money available to them from government agencies or foreign sponsors as administrative costs, for which they do not rend proper accounts," Mr Amoakwe says.
"NGOs are meant to be philanthropic, but many are fake and take a share of the money for their personal use."
He said that by the 31 March a list of NGOs that have been blacklisted will be circulated to potential sponsors, both local and foreign.
A major reason for the proliferation of NGOs has been the recent inclination of both international and bilateral aid agencies to contract out much of their fieldwork.
As you enter Rice City, a plush area of Tamale, capital of Ghana's northern region, you see a cluster of signposts competing for attention.
These are just a small indication of the more than 100 NGOs operating in this town.
In their car parks are the latest models of four-wheel drive vehicles.
On top of their offices you see masts and satellite dishes catching up with the latest technology for the third world.
Filling the Gap
Most are devoted to the alleviation of poverty, a concept so big and broad that the NGOs come from different facets with different intentions and different action areas be it health, education or income generation.
All this needs coordinating. Janet Adam Mahama is the chairperson of the Inter NGO Consortium, an umbrella organisation.
The work of NGOs needs coordinating
"The level of ignorance, illiteracy rates and poverty are all issues that bring NGOs to northern Ghana," she says.
But action is necessarily limited.
"Whatever the funding we cannot alleviate poverty all by ourselves. A bulk of the money is with the governments, it is with the multi-lateral donors who are working through governments and if we allow IMF and World Bank to determine the pace at which our governments are moving, then we are not going to be the achievers we want to be."
Much of the recent work of NGOs has been devoted to filling the gaps in social development left by structural adjustment.
Some do play an important role in local development initiatives and it would be a disaster if the NGOs suddenly withdrew from the region.
One strong example is in Tolon-Kumbungu and Savelugu-Nantong districts where the household name is GDCA - the Ghanaian-Danish Communities Association.
Almost every person in the area has in one way or another been affected positively by the activities of the GDCA.
But many others are charlatans, known locally as "husband-and-wife" NGOs, operating out of bedrooms writing letters requesting funding on fake letter-headed paper.
A common question for people whose lives have changed for the better is "Have you formed an NGO?"