The Road from Rio: Sustainable Development and the Nongovernmental Movement in the Third World

By Julie Fisher | Go to book overview

or completely objective. Knowledge about GROs, GRSOs, and their horizontal networks can provide activists with a clearer idea of their part in the whole picture and with ideas for future connections. There is every indication that the impact of empowerment from below is greater if those empowered, or empowering others, gain an awareness through networking of their actual and potential impact on their colleagues and on larger systems. For their part, international donors need to drop the assumption that their mission is to "build capacity." Instead, they should engage in enhancing their knowledge and respect for the considerable organizational capacity already transforming the Third World.

What is most striking about the phenomenon of networking is the contrast between authoritarian political superstructures in most countries and innovative cooperation between NGOs. Although GRO and GRSO networks harken back to traditional, deeply rooted cultural practices, they also provide the expanding space needed to create a new political culture, or what Latin Americans call "sociedad civil." Ironically, in the United States, the cultural ethic of competition, so useful in the private economic sphere, may make broad-based cooperation among social change organizations more difficult than in the Third World.

Careful, planned support for informal networks could avoid many of the financial and other difficulties seemingly inherent in formal consortia, particularly those organized from above. Outside money can be used, for example, to support a GRSO assisting other GRSOs with technical assistance and planning. Great care must be taken, however, not to compromise the independence and vitality of informal networks.

Thus far we have examined GROs, GRSOs, and their horizontal networks. The next two chapters focus on the factors that promote the sustainability of both empowerment from below and the substance of sustainable development. Chapter 7 deals with the factors that make GROs and GRSOs effective as individual organizations. Chapter 8 asks the same question in relation to the vertical connections between GROs and GRSOs.


NOTES
1.
Interview in IMPACT 13 (Winter-Spring 1991): 1.
2.
Vetter, 1989, p. 13.
3.
IFDA, 1991, p. 110.
4.
Schneider, 1985, pp. 140-141. However, in Guatemala COINDE represents Catholic GRSOs, CONCAD represents Protestant organizations, and ASINDES has no religious affiliation ( Ganuza, 1988). COINDE, according to one account has been more outspoken against government violence than the other two. ( Inter-Hemispheric Resource Center, Guatemala, 1988.)
5.
Approximately 56 of CEDOIS's 119 member organizations are GRSOs ( Centro Dominicano de Organizaciones de Interes Social, 1988:136).
6.
The League of Women Voters Overseas Education Fund was instrumental in

-159-

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The Road from Rio: Sustainable Development and the Nongovernmental Movement in the Third World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface xi
  • Note xiv
  • Selected Acronyms xv
  • 1 - The Politics of Development 1
  • Notes 18
  • 2 - Grassroots Organizations (gros) 21
  • Notes 51
  • 3 - Gro Networks 57
  • Notes 72
  • 4 - Grassroots Support Organizations (grsos) 75
  • Notes 113
  • 5 - Poverty, Environmental Degradation, and Population Growth: The Role of Grsos 117
  • Notes 135
  • 6 - Grso Networks 139
  • Notes 159
  • 7 - What Works: Assessing the Performance of Gros and Grsos 163
  • Notes 183
  • 8 - Gro-Grso Linkages 187
  • Notes 211
  • Glossary 215
  • Bibliography 217
  • Index 243
  • About the Author 265
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