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NGO failure and the need to bring back the state


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  • S. Akbar Zaidi

    (Karachi, Pakistan)

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    One of the many reasons why non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were considered to be part of the alternative development paradigm, was because the state, its institutions, and public policy, were unable to address a host of issues of underdevelopment. NGOs mushroomed in every corner of the globe, with substantial amounts of multilateral and bilateral funds being diverted through them for developmental purposes. NGOs were perceived to be a panacea for much of the ills that affect underdeveloped countries, and were supposed to do development in a way very different from the way the state pursued these objectives. They were thought to be participatory, community-oriented, democratic, cost effective, and better at targeting the poorest of the poor. However, in recent years, the halo of saintliness around NGOs has almost disappeared, and there is wide acknowledgement of the inability of NGOs to deliver what was expected from them. This paper after analysing the shortcomings of NGOs and the reasons and causes for their failure, suggests that there is need to bring the state back into development once again, with emphasis on reform of the nature of the state. Acknowledging that the state has failed, it argues that the only alternate to state failure is the state itself. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of International Development.

    Volume (Year): 11 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 259-271

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:11:y:1999:i:2:p:259-271

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    1. Bratton, Michael, 1989. "The politics of government-NGO relations in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 569-587, April.
    2. Meyer, Carrie A., 1995. "Opportunism and NGOs: Entrepreneurship and green north-south transfers," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 23(8), pages 1277-1289, August.
    3. Kaimowitz, David, 1993. "The role of nongovernmental organizations in agricultural research and technology transfer in Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 21(7), pages 1139-1150, July.
    4. Meyer, Carrie A., 1992. "A step back as donors shift institution building from the public to the "private" sector," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 20(8), pages 1115-1126, August.
    5. Uphoff, Norman, 1993. "Grassroots organizations and NGOs in rural development: Opportunities with diminishing states and expanding markets," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 607-622, April.
    6. Wiggins, Steve & Cromwell, Elizabeth, 1995. "NGOs and seed provision to smallholders in developing countries," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 413-422, March.
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    Cited by:
    1. Evan Thomas & Bernard Amadei, 2010. "Accounting for human behavior, local conditions and organizational constraints in humanitarian development models," Environment, Development and Sustainability, Springer, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 313-327, June.
    2. Kilby, Patrick, 2006. "Accountability for Empowerment: Dilemmas Facing Non-Governmental Organizations," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 951-963, June.
    3. Baral, Nabin & Stern, Marc J. & Bhattarai, Ranju, 2008. "Contingent valuation of ecotourism in Annapurna conservation area, Nepal: Implications for sustainable park finance and local development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 218-227, June.


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