This paper reports on some of the generic findings arising from research being undertaken in the UK, South Africa, and Uganda into the ways in which the management tools currently promoted by official donors are passed down the aid chain, through UK NGOs, to civil society organisations in the South. The increasing competition for donor funds is both squeezing out the smaller NGOs, and also setting an increasingly standardised approach, with the resulting loss in diversity. More disturbingly, NGOs at all levels are increasingly secretive about their own shortcomings, and reluctant to voice their concerns about what is happening, for fear of losing their funding. This environment, and the attitudes it fosters, are not conducive to learning; allow for donor-defined paradigms and priorities to dominate; and threaten to destroy the values and strengths that NGOs can, at their best, bring to development.
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