NGOs in South Asia have become important actors and stakeholders in the process of development and social change. The practice of sharing and caring on a voluntary basis is deeply rooted in the values, cultures and traditions of this region. This is not, however, the main reason behind the unprecedented growth in the number of NGOs and expansion in their area of operation.
The compelling reason is the failure of the state and the public sector to deliver effectively in terms of extending the benefits of development to ordinary citizens. This is being realized not only by the individuals or groups behind NGO initiatives but also at the level of donors, who seem to repose growing confidence in NGOs as an ‘alternative channel’ to transfer resources for development. Development NGOs Facing the 21st Century addresses the concerns of both NGOs themselves and donor organizations.
This collection of essays provides useful materials on the NGO sector, particularly on the scope and functions of NGOs, key challenges like sustainability and effectiveness, and institutional issues such as transparency, governance and accountability. Although the book lacks a particular thematic focus and coherence, subjects covered are pertinent to the contemporary discourse on the subject. There are frequent misperceptions among various quarters about the role and work of NGOs. This book is an attempt to facilitate a better understanding of the sector so that some of these misperceptions can be overcome. Of particular interest are articles that deal with such issues as contradictions in the development process, the policy framework for NGO work, and the question of NGOs functioning as a vehicle for foreign influence.
Although written primarily by academics and researchers, the articles draw considerably on practical work in the NGO sector. The book contains case studies in areas like ethnicity, trafficking of women, environment and forestry, disability, child labour and microcredit. The essays are almost exclusively about experiences in Nepal and Bangladesh, but they provide a sense of the overall context that is in many ways similar to that in other countries of South Asia. The book will be a useful resource material for everyone interested in the NGO sector in this region, especially in Bangladesh and Nepal.
Development NGOs Facing the 21st Century: Perspectives from South Asia
Juha Vartola et al
Institute for Human development, Kathmandu 20 euros /Rs 400
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Iftekhar Zaman is Executive Director of the Bangladesh Freedom Foundation. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org