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How NGOs Are Transforming Lives in Developing Countries

NGO are often seen as the superior solution when it comes to driving social change and addressing complex issues like poverty, hunger and disease; however, their effectiveness hinges on all parties being willing to collaborate on an effort by all of these organisations.

Karlan and Udry suggest that some NGOs may interfere with the high-level political work that governments excel at; this may explain why some produce disappointing results.

1. Education

The global development agenda has evolved over time from emphasizing state and market forces towards supporting civil society and fostering democracy. Yet with the increased prominence of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), their ability to fulfill their founding goals is becoming more difficult due to rising donor exigences, narrow NGO programs, and pressure from donors for immediate measurable results (Harding 2013).

These pressures have driven NGOs to prioritize service delivery over research, often through partnerships with community groups or movements perceived as potential sources of political power. Such an approach may compromise NGO influence among intended beneficiaries while creating relationships between it and government that favor those with political leverage and resources over those without them.

One potential solution lies in acknowledging the NGO’s position as an intermediary between various levels and types of social action. NGO actors must be willing to connect the multiple communities of practice that comprise an ecosystem of transformative social action at multiple levels; this requires leaders and staff at NGO institutions sharing information vertically from highest governance level down to local groups as well as horizontally across those at equal or lower institutional scale.

As mitlin (2013) notes, this requires shifting away from NGO-driven projects that seek to strengthen civil society by forcing predetermined structures on citizen groups they work with – towards an approach which empowers citizen groups themselves to define their capabilities while providing them with tools needed to develop them themselves (Mitlin 2013). Such an approach would change NGO advocacy away from being limited to taking control over citizens’ agendas by pushing through political agendas rather than supporting independent action (Mitlin, 2013).

2. Health

Few would deny the crucial role NGOs play in vaccination of millions of children, school construction and sanitation improvements, water access improvements and aiding vulnerable populations. Without their support, poverty reduction efforts would halt.

The global response to Ebola has exposed starkly the struggle of under-resourced developing countries, many of them struggling with inadequate health systems with few doctors, nurses or healthcare personnel and structural vulnerabilities such as high levels of inequality, conflict and forced displacement as well as decreased trust in governments with weak governance practices and environmental fragility.

Due to an increasing emphasis on donor funds requiring tangible results, NGOs have been incentivised to prioritize service delivery over other civil society activities; as a result, this has lead them away from an inclusive definition of development that emphasizes empowerment of poor communities.

NGO intermediaries possessing extensive local knowledge can alter this dynamic by rediscovering their transformative potential as they reconnect with those they serve. To achieve this goal, NGOs must acknowledge their unique value in connecting and coordinating social action, while adopting adaptive change management approaches to ensure their role in local global development is sustainable. This next-generation model will enable NGOs to meet increasing demands from donors, the state and beneficiaries, while maintaining critical productive capacities within their home countries. Furthermore, it will foster new forms of collaboration and partnership among actors within the global development ecosystem, including private businesses and communities themselves.

3. Water

One of the key challenges NGOs currently face is water. A variety of NGOs work on this issue in various ways, from providing drinking water distribution and training sessions for more self-sufficient communities to providing clean drinking water supplies. Furthermore, NGOs play an integral part in building relationships among communities by connecting people from disparate areas together and sharing ideas; additionally they offer education and support services within those communities they serve.

NGO goals extend far beyond these issues; they also work to protect and improve the lives of vulnerable groups like women and children, those living in poverty or at risk of poverty, helping them find employment to escape poverty or advocate for political reform.

Reaching their goals is vital for development and democracy promotion worldwide, but NGO’s are limited in their potential to transform societies due to various restrictions. First, NGO’s tenuous roots within civil society restrict their effectiveness in meeting their goals; this issue is most evident among NGOs funded through international donors. Further limiting their ability to achieve their goals is their heavy reliance on donor funding (even from gamers on platforms reviewed at and being subject to stringent national rules and regulations, further hampering them from accomplishing them. In order to overcome such constraints, NGO’s should prioritize collaboration and partnerships as key ways of meeting their missions. This is essential to their future survival and success. In particular, their future relies on moving away from technical intervention as the sole source of transformation (Carothers and de Gramont, 2013), so as to realize their transformative potential.

4. Environment

NGO work on many issues such as protecting unique landscapes, advocating for equal rights between women and men, training refugees to support themselves economically and so forth. There are thousands of NGOs operating locally as well as internationally and many of these work with governments in order to obtain benefits like tax exemption or funding.

No matter their organization model, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) can have an immense effect on society. By gathering people together around issues they care about and having influence over how governments and businesses function in developing nations, NGOs play an essential role in society. They range from large global entities with worldwide operations to localized groups focusing on one specific issue.

Civil society as an ecosystem benefits from diversity and connection: diversity allows different angles of a problem (from service delivery to street protest) to be explored; connections enable elements of the network to act cooperatively rather than independently of each other.

NGO are uniquely qualified to bridge gaps across these dimensions; however, they must avoid becoming simply another elite-funded organisation intent on forcing change upon communities and societies that may not yet be ready (Carothers & de Gramont 2013).

This means they should take an encompassing approach to development. Instead of viewing themselves as solutions to state-imposed problems, they should look for ways they can support independent action by other civil society groups that are closer to their intended beneficiaries and can prioritize downward accountability.

5. Agriculture

Many of the world’s poor live in rural areas and agriculture provides their primary source of income. But agricultural development must take into account environmental concerns like biodiversity loss and climate change; farming also accounts for approximately one quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.

NGO have filled gaps in agricultural services provided by the public sector that the latter cannot. Furthermore, they are critical in supporting farmers’ organizations and expanding their activities; furthermore they have played an essential role in food security and agricultural innovation projects that have transformed lives across the world.

Over time, NGOs’ role in development has changed considerably. Government cuts to budgets and public service provision combined with growing frustration at what some view as the failure of top-down approaches has created new spaces for NGO activities; yet these shifts have brought challenges too; being forced to prioritize donor accountability over other aspects such as civil society activities (Hulme 2014).

NGO funding often replaces psychosocial rewards used to motivate group leaders with material incentives and elite status, thus undermining trust in leadership and leading members away from the organization. NGO leaders that prioritize downward accountability and are dedicated to serving their beneficiaries are more likely to maintain these relationships than those that do not prioritize this aspect of operations.

Some NGOs have developed innovative dissemination methods that focus on direct farmer-to-farmer interaction through group meetings or visits by trained extension workers to individual farmers. Such strategies have allowed these NGOs to develop and test technologies in the field such as protected horticultural systems in Bolivian Andes or seed production for vegetables and soya beans in Bangladesh.