The involvement of Northern NGOs with the developing countries

In this research paper we look at the involvement of Northern NGOs with the developing countries. They are prime donors of most developing countries programs which are geared towards alleviating the welfare of the masses such as improve health and living condition.

Local NGOs have been involved as intermediaries between government and the people.

The northern NGOs serve their specific agenda and mandate contrary to what the poor rural urban expect.

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Northern NGOs represented international organizations who are donors to developing countries that are are donors such as World Bank and private agencies. Their relation with the south makes it the subject of this research paper. The relationship with governments and nongovernmental organization with them plays a critical role in understanding their mandates and objectives in helping the population in the rural and urban regions.

The urban and rural populace has diverse needs ranging from health, unemployment, education, poverty and access to other services. In this respect governments have been unable to provide these services to their community in an effective and wider coverage manner. For instance, in South Africa, 30 % of the population are unemployed and for the 20% of the poorest households, 53% ere unemployed (Adato & Haddad 2001, p.1).

It is also reported that there is need for job creation in all regions inhabited by the poorest households i.e. urban, metropolitan and rural. Based on these facts the governments of countries in the developing world have focused their programs to alleviate these problems e.g. the welfare of the masses, improve living condition, health and service provision (Li 2005).

The programs have achieved different success margins and limitations. Most of government programs are constrained in reaching the people because of bureaucracy, authoritarian rule and high cost of implementation. Since most of the programs are financed by international community (Northern NGOs) and governments.

For instance, in Indonesia the World Bank has developed social development programs to help them achieve their mandate and objectives. In order to do these, they have used analysis of the needs of the regions to come up with the plan. Due to constraints in working with the government directly they have supported and strengthened the local NGOs and civil society organizations (CSOs) to advance their objectives (Li 2005).

The rationale use includes improving transparency in village planning level, conflict resolution and step sponsorship of NGOs. However NGOs have their own limitations such as the leaders use as a vehicle for reformation of social and political life. The World Bank has used neo-liberal system to ensure ‘good governance’ by instituting a competitive process based on administrative and decentralized structures (Li 2005).

More so in order for the region to be eligible for support from World Bank it had to proof that it is pro-poor and is supervised by the World Bank team. According to Arya (1999) he explains the role in which NGOs have worked with their government under the funding of donors (government agencies, private agencies and governments). The common objectives for the collaboration include; access to technical resources, gain legitimacy or recognition from the people, obtain appropriate solution and developmental problems, enhance people’s participation and provide  better accountability, transparency and public reform system (Arya  1999).

Donors view NGOs as intermediaries or transitory to government links to people and use them to as instruments of improved service delivery and outreach to the government. The donors see their task as completed when NGOs are involved in the project programs with the government. Most private donors do not support or supervise the selection criterion even when there is resistance from the government. However, they can play a key role in establishing mechanism to bring NGOs so that they have a beneficial effect on service delivery, participation and decentralization (Arya 1999).

Northern NGOs for the past decade have increased funding to southern NGOs with due to limitation effectiveness of delivery, reforms, cost efficiency, sustainability and participation from the government. DeGabriele (2002), when studying about improvement of community based management projects. He previewed the World Health Organization commitment to provide access to safe and clean water.

But from the experiences gathered two challenges emerged; water accessibility could not be achieved with the rate of population growth and the intended improvements to health were not realized within 1980 – 1990 decade. This becomes the redefinition of the concept of community management within water sector. It was realized that water accessibility could only be achieved with participatory role implemented (DeGabriele 2002).

AED (1998) elaborates on the participatory approach used to i.e. the participatory learning and Action approach which involves communities to analyze their needs, identify possible solutions and develop, implement and evaluate the plan of action. In contrast NGOs can have negative implication to the poor because they can use them to legitimize their existence, solicit funds and raise their profile for the disadvantage of the poor. Changes in their positive attitude will go way to bring positive results (AED 1998, Kaiser 2000, p. 6).


Northern NGOs play critical role in financing development programs to developing countries. They have been involved directly or indirectly with government depending on the nature and intensity of the resources used and the origin of the donor. Most private agencies finance the local NGOs who are viewed as intermediaries or transitory link between the government and people. The donors have used them to enhance their agenda and mandate to ensure good governance of project- programs they agree with the government.


Adato, M.; Haddad, L, 2001, Poverty targets, community-based public works programs: a cross-disciplinary assessment in South Africa, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Available from:> [8 April 2008]

AED, 1998, Empowering communities: participatory techniques for community-based programme development, Academy for Educational Development, Washington DC, Available from: <> [8April 2008]

Arya, V, 1999, Towards a relationship of significance: lessons from a decade of

collaboration between government and NGOs in Rajasthan, India,  Agricultural Research and Extension Network (AgREN), Available from: <> [8April 2008]

DeGabriele, J, 2002, Improving community based management of boreholes” a case study from Malawi Land Tenure Centre, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Available from

<> [8April 2008]

Kaiser, T, 2000, Participatory & beneficiary-based approaches in evaluation of

humanitarian programmes, Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit (EPAU), UNHCR, Available from :<> [8April 2008]

Li, T, 2005, The government through community; the World Bank in Indonesia, University of Toronto, Available from: <> [8April 2008]

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