Democratising development: NGOs and the state
Many NGOs are moving beyond conventional project work, with its emphasis on ‘doing’, and are attempting to enhance their impact through ‘influencing’. There are four interconnected approaches: Project Replication, Grassroots Mobilisation, Influencing Policy Reform, and International Advocacy. Each calls for a more strategic relationship between NGOs and governments. For NGOs to move to an effective ‘influencing’ mode, new skills and a new relationship between Northern and Southern NGOs are required. The Technological Age, with its emphasis on physical projects, must give way to an Information Age, whose ‘software’ comprises access to official information, decision makers, and networks; and access to skills in communication, lobbying, and research. Northern NGOs must recognise that these requirements are becoming more important to their Southern counterparts than funds. If they do not, they will find their relationships becoming out of date, and their former counterparts will seek more appropriate allies – for example, among pressure groups in the North.
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