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Why Do NGOs Go Where They Go? Evidence from Kenya


  • Brass, Jennifer N.


Using Kenya as a case study, this paper provides preliminary evidence of the factors influencing Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to choose their locations within a country. Interpreting the findings from a range of models evaluating 4,210 organizations in 70 districts, and drawing on in-country interviews with NGO leaders and workers, government officials, and politicians, it finds that sub-national NGO location corresponds to an area’s objective level of need, as well as the convenience of the location for accessing beneficiaries, donors, and elite goods. Contrary to dominant theories of African political economy, political factors like patronage appear to have little or no significant influence.

Suggested Citation

  • Brass, Jennifer N., 2012. "Why Do NGOs Go Where They Go? Evidence from Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 387-401.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:40:y:2012:i:2:p:387-401
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2011.07.017

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. A J Scott, 1999. "The US Recorded Music Industry: On the Relations between Organization, Location, and Creativity in the Cultural Economy," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 31(11), pages 1965-1984, November.
    2. Ebrahim, Alnoor, 2003. "Accountability In Practice: Mechanisms for NGOs," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 813-829, May.
    3. Clark, John, 1995. "The state, popular participation, and the voluntary sector," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 593-601, April.
    4. Edwards, Michael & Hulme, David, 1996. "Too close for comfort? the impact of official aid on nongovernmental organizations," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 961-973, June.
    5. Anna Fruttero & Varun Gauri, 2005. "The Strategic Choices of NGOs: Location Decisions in Rural Bangladesh," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(5), pages 759-787.
    6. Pascale Joassart-Marcelli & Alberto Giordano, 2006. "Does local access to employment services reduce unemployment? A GIS analysis of One-Stop Career Centers," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 39(4), pages 335-359, December.
    7. Barr, Abigail & Fafchamps, Marcel & Owens, Trudy, 2005. "The governance of non-governmental organizations in Uganda," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 657-679, April.
    8. Bratton, Michael, 1989. "The politics of government-NGO relations in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 569-587, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ronelle Burger & Canh Thien Dang & Trudy Owens, 2017. "Better performing NGOs do report more accurately: Evidence from investigating Ugandan NGO financial accounts," Discussion Papers 2017-10, University of Nottingham, CREDIT.
    2. repec:bla:ausecr:v:49:y:2016:i:4:p:432-452 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Gani Aldashev & Cecilia Navarra, 2017. "Development NGOs: Basic Facts," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2017-36, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    4. Banks, Nicola & Hulme, David & Edwards, Michael, 2015. "NGOs, States, and Donors Revisited: Still Too Close for Comfort?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 707-718.
    5. Briggs, Ryan C., 2014. "Aiding and Abetting: Project Aid and Ethnic Politics in Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 194-205.
    6. Noll, Daniel & Dawes, Colleen & Rai, Varun, 2014. "Solar Community Organizations and active peer effects in the adoption of residential PV," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 330-343.
    7. Torpey-Saboe, Nichole, 2015. "Does NGO Presence Decrease Government Spending? A Look at Municipal Spending on Social Services in Brazil," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 479-488.
    8. M. Niaz Asadullah, 2016. "Do Pro-Poor Schools Reach Out to the Poor? Location Choice of BRAC and ROSC Schools in Bangladesh," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 49(4), pages 432-452, December.


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