Nongovernments: NGOs and the Political Development of the Third World

By Julie Fisher | Go to book overview

Even though the more capable and knowledgeable NGOs are likely to be autonomous and politically influential, the shift to government implementation on a wider scale will be slow and "more difficult than imagined" ( Bhatt 1995, 88). For one thing, the evidence presented in Chapter 2 suggests that governments can be capricious and inconsistent, with one ministry undoing what another has supported. For another thing, managerial reforms within Third World governments remain scattered at best. Indeed, Bhatt ( 1995) argues that Asian governments are becoming less capable and more corrupt. Finally, NGOs may be trapped into becoming state substitutes, as governments retire from their social responsibilities ( Wils 1996).

Both national and international policies should therefore focus not just on building partnerships with the most capable NGOs but also on learning from, building on, and supporting the strengths of existing indigenous NGOs. Given the immensely complex task of balancing grassroots empowerment and accountability with organizational autonomy and government ties, it is inconceivable that any Northern donor or international NGO could begin to match the diversity of experience and knowledge already extant within the Third World. 44 Rather, foreign donors need to support strategic networking that strengthens the autonomy of NGOs, particularly in their relationships with governments. Chapter 6, which includes recommendations for donors, provides more details on how they might do this. If individual professionals within Third World governments also come to view autonomous NGOs not as threatening but as empowering the government to do more and with greater efficacy, they too may significantly advance the processes of democratization and sustainable development.


Notes
1.
An African theorist ( Mulyungi 1990, 57) postulates a scale of 1 to 4: (1) fatalistic acceptance; (2) development from within, enabling the poor to enter the lower middle class; (3) radical change not only of the poor themselves but also of the institutions that maintain them in poverty; and (4) radical change of the entire system. He concludes that African NGOs are not equipped for goal 4 but should be able to accomplish a combination of goals 2 and 3.
2.
See also Fisher 1993, 10-18. On Tanzania, where NGOs have only recently begun to proliferate, see Tripp 1994, 126.
3.
After tentatively isolating this variable, I participated with Habte Woldemarian on a panel at the Independent Sector's Spring Research Forum in Boston. His paper ( 1992) helped mecrystallize my ownthinking onthis point.

-99-

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Nongovernments: NGOs and the Political Development of the Third World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Ngos, Civil Society, and Political Development 1
  • Notes 32
  • 2 - Government Policies Toward Ngos: Political Context and the Growth of Civil Society 39
  • Notes 69
  • 3 the Impact of NGOs on Governments: the Role of NGO Autonomy 75
  • Notes 99
  • 4 - Promoting Democratization and Sustainable Development 105
  • Notes 132
  • 5 - Subnational Governments and Ngos 135
  • Notes 155
  • 6 - Civil Society, Democracy, and Political Development 159
  • Notes 187
  • Glossary 191
  • References 193
  • Index 227
  • About the Author 237
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