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Part A. How do Non-Government Development Organisations identify (see, act, say about) themselves? Provide us with an understanding of how they see their role (values and behaviours) and relationships (with one of The State, The Market, Other NGOs, or Other Civil Society) in Development?

Part B. With reference to the themes so far covered in this course, reflect upon whether and how your own perception of the role of NGDOs in society has changed. To what extent? Why? Why not? NB: This is not an opinion piece. You need to develop an argument and a position that justifies your perceptions.

Part A: NGDOs

Three profile of NGDOs or the non-governmental development organizations has changed dramatically over the past decade. These organizations have increased in numbers and work at an international, national and local level to remove social issues of poverty, illiteracy and poor health. The pear aims to explain the nature, role, and responsibilities of Non-Government Development Organizations and the challenges faced by them. It provided an understanding of the role of NGDOs in society by taking the example of non-governmental organizations working in Africa and other Asian countries.

The non-governmental development organizations are commonly referred to as NGOs.As asserted by Shah (2005), different names are used for NGDOs such as Civil Society Organizations, charities, non-profits charities, Private Voluntary Organizations and third sector organizations that are covered under the umbrella term of NGOs. These terms include a large number of different groups, organizations, and humanitarian relief. There is a steady rise in the number of NGDOs, especially in the developing countries.There are no set definitions or categorization of NGDOs as it is difficult to differentiate between the purpose, ownership and operation scale of these organizations. Moreover, the same NGO may reflect different characteristics during the different phases of its working and evolution.

The profile of NGOs may vary in the industrialized and well-developed countries from those in low-income countries. It is essential to comprehend NGDOs working, their relationship with others and the different types of problems they face during their operations to understand these organizations completely. There is no denying that have become a prominent part of community landscape. The governments and citizens rely on these organizations for development. NGOs’ preferred mode of organization is like a pyramid. A certain number of NGOs are dedicated towards international solidarity and development. Institutional sources and private donations are the sources of funding for more structured projects. The cohesion of their interests converge into a national gathering, and their organization can be seen as the layers of the pyramid. (Matei & C?t?lin Apostu, 2014). The next generation of NGO leaders needs to follow specific development strategies to address the various issues comprehensively.  The future leaders need to implement a wide range of competencies that align with the goals of the program (Lise. & Annabeth, 2017). The efforts will typically involve active participation by citizens and cooperation from governmental groups.

As asserted by Bromideh (2011), NGO organization can be a grass-root organization or an intermediary organization or work as a support organization. Its primary characteristics include being non-political, non-commercial, non-governmental, voluntary and accountable. The nature, kind and structures of NGOs can vary considerably. NGDOs, a non-profit group get funding from other institutions, private sources, businesses and their government, and remain politically independent. Communications advances, increased resources and growing awareness facility the bonds between like-minded groups and people across geographical boundaries (Shah, 2005).

A good example is The African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC), founded in 1995, was a successful organization based on partnerships between countries, community’s foundations and NGDOs (InfoNTD, 2018). The objective was to strengthen the health and support the distribution of medicines to empowers communities and help them fight health-related issues. Millions have received treatment for river blindness in Africa, and the partnership plans to eradicate other neglected tropical diseases by 2030 (InfoNTD, 2018). World Health Organization launched the APOC Program to control river blindness or the parasitic infectious disease onchocerciasis. Millions of people in 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa got treatment with the drug ivermectin (Coffeng et al., 2013).

NGDOs roles and responsibilities

The preceding inter-governmental organizations were voluntary organization am semi-private in nature. The phrase "non-government organization’ came into practice by the early 1920s (Pierre-Yves, 2009). The international non-governmental organizations are based on different groupings and relations with the UN agencies and international umbrella-type organizations. As asserted by Pierre-Yves (2009), NGOs do not work in an ideal world or under perfect conditions. They compete for recognition, members, and funds all the time. Collaborations with non-governmental organizations and encouraging Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a popular way of creating value within the company. CSR and NGO collaborations are being integrated into the company and especially in the key functional areas. Such collaborative activities build value across core business functions (Lise. & Annabeth, 2017).

Colebunders et al. (2018) asserts how many eye-care non-governmental organizations (NGOs) took advantage of the ivermectin donations made by y Merck Sharp & Dohme, for use in Africa. They helped to start mass ivermectin treatment in the in the most heavily infected communities in Africa. The NGO’s have helped fill the gaps by channeling the direct country support. Strategies to distribute Ivermectin in conflict-affected areas required special considerations and was possible because of collaboration with local NGOs (Colebunders et al., 2018). The mass treatment programs were feasible because of contributions from donor and beneficiary countries. APOC is seen as the most cost-effective public health programs in the world. It left a remarkable impact on population health in Africa between 1995 and 2010 (Coffeng et al., 2013).

WHO states that more than 25 million people are infected with onchocerciasis, and about 123 million people are at risk of the infection. Almost all of these people reside in sub-Saharan Africa (Colebunders et al., 2018), Evidence suggests a strong link between onchocerciasis and human mortality. Sightsavers, as an NGO began their operations in Mali in the early 1990s in a small way. They assisted the Ministry of Health and the OCP in their objective of eliminating onchocerciasis with the help of ivermectin. The NGO appointed a River Blindness Coordinator to promote ivermectin distribution. The organization worked closely with the OCP in planning and expanded the ivermectin treatment programs (Meredith, Cross, & Amazigo, 2012). Sightsavers worked with River Blindness Coordinator to enable treatment of a large number of people with a community-based distribution approach. Sightsavers further expanded the community-based approach in other districts through Baguineda programme (Meredith, Cross, & Amazigo, 2012).

Today, Sightsavers works with endemic communities and partners with developing countries to eradicate blindness. The NGO believes that people should not go blind needlessly and develops interventions to promote eye health and cure avoidable blindness. Its strategic framework invests in scalable, cost-effective approaches to improve eye health, by developing effective partnerships, and strong strategic alliances (Sightsavers, 2018). Sightsavers currently supports13 African countries and its people (Sightsavers, 2018). It has accumulated considerable human resource experience in onchocerciasis programming. It continues to work in broader partnerships to support the Mectizan Donation Programme. The development of a comprehensive alliance is very vital for the non-governmental development organizations as they collaborate with other NGOs and the ministries of health in endemic countries (Sightsavers, 2018).

Sightsavers as an NGO

NGDOs face different challenges because of several factors and struggle to provide improved services to communities in need. They need to create coordination amongst different agencies as they catalyze social, economic and political change processes. It is a constant challenge to deliver quality health services in several African countries and thus controlling Onchocerciasis has been difficult. Still, the prevalence of onchocerciasis has dropped dramatically, but complete elimination is yet to be reached (Colebunders et al., 2018). Remote and inaccessible areas, inadequate supply and lack of understanding of the disease pose significant barriers.

Sightsavers as an NGO faced some resistance at the outset this community-based distribution method because of the concerns about the drug safety and the use of volunteers. Sightsavers had to convince that the drug ivermectin could be safely distributed without any supervision from health staff.  The NGO needed the support of the Onchocerciasis Control Programme (OCP) and the Ministry level to remove those obstacles (Meredith, Cross, & Amazigo, 2012). The challenge for Sightsavers was on how to convince the Ministry to set up an effective community-based distribution system in the project area.

There is no denying that NGOs are an integral part of civil society. While there has been an extraordinary growth in non-governmental organizations in the last couple of decades, especially in developing countries, these organizations face new and upcoming challenges. On-governmental organizations face numerous challenges, and to operate, these organizations need to identify the obstacles that are causing those challenges.  Some of the challenging issues within NGOs relate to organization structure and management plus the fund resources (Bromideh, 2011). NGO field is seen as a complex and fragmented actor that function within a unique political context. Its influence relies on the degree to which the government or the state support a development project. Power wars often exist between states and NGOs related to NGO-led development projects (Asad & Kay, 2014). NGOs, because of their closeness to communities can play a vital role in understanding evidence and interpret it into relevance for those communities. However, as their research is conducted on a small scale, their efforts often go unrecognized by research organizations. Their experiences and lessons can be better used with effective partnerships between NGOs and other key stakeholders (Meredith, Cross, & Amazigo, 2012).

The type and level of challenges faced by NGOs can vary with different developing nation. The most common scenario is of the government’s desire to control NGOs and their activities. Thus, it is no surprise to see quasigovernmental NGO operating in some developing countries (Bromideh, 2011). Tensions often arise when taking important decisions due to tense relations within the organization and with the government. Another issue is the poor quality of training for NGO workers. Limited financial and management expertise add to the challenging problems of insufficient funds as asserted by Bromideh (2011). Poor communication and weak relationships within the organization and beyond add to their problems.

It is difficult to assess NGO performance because of the absence of reliable evidence or the effectiveness of an NGO. This is because most NGO studies are based on small samples and often restricted to specific fields. Rigorous assessment becomes difficult as the internal evaluations are rarely released (Edwards& Hulme, 2014). Still, there is enough evidence that NGOs do not perform as effectively regarding sustainability, innovation, participation, and cost-effectiveness. NGO services usually fail to reach the poorest people. Many social services supplied by well-resourced NGOs work as a 'patchwork quilt,' and those without any support or funding are left to fend for themselves as stated by Edwards& Hulme (2014).

Taking the example of NGOs working in Africa for Onchocerciasis control, the Non-Governmental Development organization (NGDO) Coordination Group for Onchocerciasis Control was established in 1992 (Elhassan et al., 2018). The primary objective was to control onchocerciasis through mass distribution of Mectizan. Right from the beginning, the NGO supported a more extensive partnership of national health services at public and private levels. The Group helped in the foundation of APOC to make serious efforts against river blindness in Africa as stated by Elhassan et al. (2018). The autonomy and independence of NGOs rely on the kind of relationships it develops with the state or the government. There are examples of NGOs that are dependent on the state but enjoy a higher level of autonomy (Lu, 2008). NGOs generally suffer from a lack of independence and self-sufficiency. , and often the NGOs develop bureaucratic patrons to get protection from the government control.

The above discussion on NGDOs has changed my perceptions regarding the role of NGDOs in society. It is assumed that, and as they have no profits to show, they are free of any pressures or challenges. However, the above discussion shows that this is not the case. NGDOs have to face many challenges to reach their goals and have to work within stringent lines of balancing their relationships with the locals, with other NGOs and the government.

Non-Governmental Development Organizations or NGDOs play a significant role in helping developing countries get rid of their socio-economic, health and educational problems. They provide human resources, funding and build community infrastructure to coordinate their activities (World Health Organization, 2018). Their role and responsibilities include preparing project proposals, providing training and supervision, monitoring and mentoring along with offering funding. NGDOs work independently but may work in partnership with the governmental organizations. The NGOs are most needed in developing countries and play a significant role in the progress and development of societies. NGOs often provide essential services related to food, health, and education, to the marginalized members of the community (Bromideh, 2011). These organizations work on both national and international issues related to economic development, health, economics, and the environment.  However, the working environment for the NGOs is getting tougher because of the limited resources and the highly competitive environment as stated by Bromideh (2011).

As seen in the current example of different NGOs working African countries to fight onchocerciasis, it was the non-governmental development organizations that made the early efforts in the mass distribution of the drug Mectizan. In the beginning, the different projects run by NGDOs in Africa and Latin America were independent of one another. However, gradually it was felt that the efforts and programs need to be coordinated. The Mectizan-distribution program expanded rapidly once the coordination group was set up. What worked as restrictions were the limited resources, better coordination and more comprehensive control of onchocerciasis. As a result, APOC was founded in 1995 (Etya'alé, 1998). The unique type of global partnership and international co-operation behind APOC are the reasons behind the success of the programme. The power lay not with just a single player but with the effective collaboration between many partners and close working relationships. Ever since the launch of Mectizan donation by Merck & Co, many NGDOs have been involved with the project and helped in the mass distribution to control onchocerciasis. NGDO network engaged in onchocerciasis has assisted over 62 million people suffering from the risks of blindness (Haddad, 2008). Community-directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI) is the current strategy used for the drug distribution in Africa.

 The NGDO work together with the governments and private institutions to address serious and intractable health problems. However, the process that runs behind is indeed complex and with no guarantees of success. According to Matei & C?t?lin Apostu (2014), State democracies and NGOs must have a healthy dialogue and transparency when they work together. Political influence and enabling policies can strengthen the civil society and the relationship between the Non-Government Development Organizations and the State. Regulations should support NGO growth and encourage healthy communication, while Taxation policies can provide incentives for developmental activities. Official support and coordination can promote NGO activities and foster coordination without suppressing NGOs independence.

For NGOs and their development, the standard efforts are how to offer support through partnerships.  Local NGOs and international NGOs often partner together to get funding and organizational support. Together, they work with governments and business to eradicate health and education issues, especially in the poorer countries. A good example is a collaboration between a local NGOs in Bangladesh and Save the Children (UK)), an NGO (Ahmad, 2006).

To conclude on the subject, the role and responsibilities of NGDOs and the work they are doping should be acknowledged by the government and the locals. They should not be used as a tool to control others or exercise power. NGOs should be given a free hand and full support in their operations as they reach out to the more vulnerable regions and people of the society. Open communication, productive collaborations, and adequate funding can help remove the challenges faced by this non -profit organizations.


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Bromideh, A.A. (2011). The widespread challenges of NGOs in developing countries: Case studies from Iran. Researchgate, 1(1), 197–202.  

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