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Abstract

This article examines nongovernmental organization (NGO) partnership issues in the light of a 1996 World Bank report that seeks to promote a greater level of partnership between govern ment and NGOs. The first part of the article briefly reviews Bangla desh's now well-known NGO sector. The continuing status of inde pendent Bangladesh as a major recipient of international aid has created an environment in which the growth of most private volun tary development agencies is directly linked with the provision of external resources. While the World Bank report urges closer coop eration between NGOs and government, it ignores the fact that many existing partnerships are often of a dependent character. The second part of this article presents a recent case study of NGO-government linkages in aquaculture. The purpose is to examine the realities of the current rhetoric of NGO-government partnership that are found to be driven primarily by resource priorities.
NGOS, DONORS, AND THE STATE IN BANGLADESH, 554 Annals Am. Acad. Pol. &...
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554 Annals Am. Acad. Pol. & Soc. Sci. 33
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
November, 1997
The Role of NGO's: Charity and Empowerment
NGOS, DONORS, AND THE STATE IN BANGLADESH
David J. Lewis a1
Copyright (c) 1997 by the The American Academy of Political and Social Science; David J. Lewis
ABSTRACT: This article examines nongovernmental organization (NGO) partnership issues in the
light of a 1996 World Bank report that seeks to promote a greater level of partnership between
government and NGOs. The first part of the article briefly reviews Bangladesh's now well-known
NGO sector. The continuing status of independent Bangladesh as a major recipient of international
aid has created an environment in which the growth of most private voluntary development agencies
is directly linked with the provision of external resources. While the World Bank report urges closer
cooperation between NGOs and government, it ignores the fact that many existing partnerships are
often of a dependent character. The second part of this article presents a recent case study of NGO-
government linkages in aquaculture. The purpose is to examine the realities of the current rhetoric of
NGO-government partnership that are found to be driven primarily by resource priorities.
*34 THE recent growth of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in many aid-recipient countries has attracted
widespread academic attention. 1 The case of Bangladesh has been particularly prominent in many discussions since it
now contains some of the largest indigenous development NGOs anywhere in the world. The first part of this article
provides a general overview of NGOs in Bangladesh by documenting the origins and changing activities of some of these
organizations and by combining this with more up-to-date material relating to their changing roles in the late 1990s.
The 1996 World Bank report on NGO partnerships with government, entitled “Pursuing Common Goals: Strengthening
Relations Between Government and NGOs in Bangladesh,” is briefly considered. The emphasis is on the Bangladeshi
NGO sector rather than the international NGOs that work in the country, although the strong external connections of
these organizations in terms of funding are noted. The second part of the article examines the discourse of partnership
through a recent case study on an interagency aquaculture project.
Before Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation in 1971, there had long been a tradition of private welfare and
development work. Private voluntary work was undertaken by better-off members of the community in organizing
schools or mosques, and relief was provided for the victims of natural disasters. From the colonial period onward, within
the traditions of Christian missionary work there has been voluntary activity in the fields of education and health.
However, the national emergency that followed the war of independence and the cyclone that came immediately
afterward was formative for the sector. The massive international relief effort that followed independence provided
familiarity with and experience of the aid industry and facilitated subsequent access to funds. The continuing levels of
widespread poverty across the country led to widespread disillusionment with the government's model of development,
which relied on the trickle down of benefits to the poor.
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Alternatives duly began to emerge from other private, voluntary sources as idealistic members of Bangladesh's elite
began to organize NGOs.2 The Grameen Bank developed a model of credit provision without collateral.3 Other NGOs
began to formulate an alternative grassroots development strategy that emphasized working directly with the landless
population, which was already beginning *35 to number about half the total rural population of the country and tended
to be bypassed by the government's own rural development initiatives.4 These organizations grew throughout the 1980s
on a vast scale, supported mainly by donor funds. For example, Proshika has organized 773,400 people in 44,400 groups
across the country and claims to reach nearly 4 million individuals if household members are included. The Bangladesh
Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) has more than 12,000 staff members, and its rural development program has
so far reached 1.42 million households. 5
Emerging from this analysis was the target group approach, in which organizations such as BRAC and Proshika began
working with the twin strategies of(1) providing credit resources without collateral with which low-income household
members could begin to generate income through non-land, small-scale economic activities such as animal husbandry
and petty trading and (2) adapting Freirean approaches to group formation and what is often termed ““conscientization”
designed to develop the potential of poor people to challenge structural inequalities through education, organization,
and mobilization.
These approaches have been deployed in different mixes by different organizations since this earlier period. The vast
majority have opted for the credit-based approach, which is both economically sustainable and favored by foreign
donors. However, most NGOs in Bangladesh can still be broadly situated along a continuum from primarily economic
activities, such as service delivery, credit, and income generation, to more political approaches that emphasize Freirean
notions of conscientization and empowerment.
BRAC may be seen as an NGO belonging broadly in the first category, while Nijera Kori is often taken to be an example
of the more radical second group because it does not provide credit inputs in its development approach. It has also been
associated with a strong local political protest against shrimp production in the southwest of Bangladesh and with the
struggle to gain access to government khas land, which is theoretically available for redistribution to the poor, for the
landless. For most NGOs of this type, political action was undertaken at the local community level and NGOs did not
maintain a national political profile, seeking instead to remain discreet from wider political debate and action. Indeed, the
majority of NGOs remained largely closed off from the rest of civil society and tended to be greeted with some skepticism
by the middle classes and the media, which saw them as self-interested and accountable only to foreign donors. NGOs
played no role in the mass movement *36 against General Ershad between 1987 and 1990, belatedly lending their name
to a statement of support in the last days of the campaign when it was finally clear that the government was going to fall.
In the 1990s, the “new policy agenda” of the international donor agencies, which favors market liberalization and
democratic governance, has created an environment in which the dominant model for NGOs is some variant on the
credit and income-generation approach. 6 The Grameen Bank and the Association for Social Advancement are both
organizations that have placed credit provision at the center of their developmental activities. But the agenda has also
supported the addition of a third type of strategy for NGOs-- that of policy advocacy and the wider role of civil society
organization.
For example, the NGO Proshika added a new dimension to its work with the creation of the Institute for Development
Policy Analysis and Advocacy in the early 1990s. The mass movement that emerged against the Khaleda Zia regime
in the mid-1990s also made it clear that some NGOs, through the umbrella organization Association of Development
Agencies in Bangladesh, were perhaps prepared to play a more proactive role in national politics. This role expansion is
not confined to the political sphere. At the time of writing, both BRAC and Proshika are planning to establish their own
universities, partly in response to the closing off of public space within the old universities, which have been paralyzed
by continuing political violence. 7
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NGOs, CIVIL SOCIETY, AND THE STATE
Bangladesh has, since 1971, remained heavily dependent on international aid at a level of just under US$2 billion per
year. 8 Recent lending by the World Bank has been made conditional on structural adjustment programs, while the
bilateral donors also retain considerable influence. The World Bank report shows that there has been a large increase
in funds going to NGOs, from US$120 million in 1991 to US$188 million in 1994-95. Although there has been a
proliferation of local NGOs in Bangladesh, figures presented by the World Bank indicate that nearly 70 percent of all
funds are consumed by the 10 largest Bangladeshi NGOs. Organizations such as BRAC and Proshika, as we have seen,
are now comparable in size and influence to government departments or local corporations.
During the 1980s, these donors supported the work carried out by the major NGOs, which was mainly in the area of
credit, income generation, *37 and group formation. The 1990s have seen a growing emphasis on the socalled new
policy agenda of market liberalization and democratic governance. This agenda is reflected in the recent shift among
some NGOs to include an interest in governance and election monitoring, it is also reflective of the donors' changing
stance toward a willingness to fund such activities under the new ““good governance” and “civil society” agendas. 9
Based on Migdal's approach, Sarah White identifies Bangladesh as a “weak state” in a “strong society” in that its
repeated attempts through successive regimes to reorganize local administrative units, prohibit dowry, or redistribute
khas land have all proved largely unsuccessful. 10 In terms of legitimacy, the Bangladesh state is still, 25 years after
gaining independence from Pakistan, engaged in a search for a Bengali identity that is distinct from India and a Muslim
identity separate from that of Pakistan.
Gordon White's definition of “civil society” as “an intermediate associational realm between the state and family
populated by organisations which are separate from the state, enjoy autonomy from the state and are formed voluntarily
by members of society” can be used to suggest that Bangladesh certainly has a strong civil society in terms of its NGO
sector. 11 But civil society is more than just NGOs, and there is more to society than such a definition of “civil society”
in associational terms. The existence of a range of social, economic, and political interests that act effectively upon the
state suggests a dynamic and strong society, which is apparent from both the social entrepreneurship apparent in the
formation of so many NGOs as well as in the political mobilization and widespread corruption that exist in the country.
White suggests, on the contrary, that civil society has encroached on the state, which “is unable to guarantee the basic
rights of any who have not the power to seize them for themselves.” 12
In this view, the commonly held picture among donors of civil society as essentially benign can be questioned (for
example, with respect to the growing influence of extreme religious interest groups), as can the view that the growth
of NGOs is necessarily to be equated with the strengthening of such a civil society. Blair's view that the proliferation
of interest groups in civil society can create a type of political “gridlock” that can paralyze democratic processes
may have relevance to Bangladesh, where interest groups in the form of political parties can call repeated strikes and
demonstrations *38 through political action outside mainstream political institutions. 13
This is not to say that notions of civil society do not have relevance to Bangladesh, and it is beyond the scope of this
article to review this question in depth. A proper understanding of Bangladesh's distinctive civil society may require
investigation that goes beyond the activities of NGOs and the governance models of foreign donors to include an
examination of local institutions, religious groups, and the flow of what might be termed Eastern aid from the Persian
Gulf states, most of which is conspicuous by its absence in discussions of civil society. However, it is interesting to note
that Bangladesh may be evolving its own distinctive political institutions such as the 90-day caretaker government system
to facilitate elections.
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CASE STUDY: AN INTERAGENCY AQUACULTURE PROJECT
This section explores the notion of partnership between NGOS, donors, and government agencies in the light of the recent
World Bank report. Recent research on government and NGO linkages documented efforts to bring about poverty-
focused technical change in agriculture and drew upon case studies collected in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. A
key conclusion was that while partnerships between NGOs and government agencies were certainly taking place, and
in many cases were generating potentially useful new approaches and insights, a straightforward view of a functional
division of roles was not appropriate. Social, political, and historical contextual factors in different countries were found
to be crucial determinants of linkage effectiveness. 14
In order to develop these findings further, subsequent research was undertaken with an international agricultural research
center (IARC) involved in an interagency aquaculture project in Bangladesh. The methodology of the research was
primarily anthropological in an attempt to build an institutional ethnography of the project through which an overall
picture of the planned and actual project activities could be produced, drawing upon a range of information sources and
combining the often contradictory perceptions of different project actors. 15
Partnership
The concept of partnership is in vogue among policymakers and practitioners concerned with building links between the
work of government agencies and NGOs in rural development projects. The creation of partnerships is seen as a way
of making more efficient use of scarce resources, increasing institutional sustainability, *39 and improving beneficiary
participation. At a more general level, creating links between government agencies and NGOs may have implications for
strengthening transparency in administration and challenging prevailing top-down institutional culture, both of which
may contribute to strengthening wider civil society and Bangladesh's fragile process of democratization. On the other
hand, the increased interest in NGOs as vehicles for service delivery is strongly linked to demands for privatization within
the new policy agenda.
It is not surprising, therefore, that “partnership” tends to mean different things to different development actors, and
there is in practice a wide gap between rhetoric and reality. This article uses the term “partnership” to refer to an agreed
relationship based on a set of linkages between two or more agencies within a development project, usually involving
a division of roles and responsibilities, a sharing of risks, and the pursuit of joint objectives. A project that involves
partnership is likely to have a range of interagency linkages at various levels. The use of the word “partnership” covers
a wide range of different relationships between agencies that may have either an active or passive, dependent character
(see Table 1).
TABLE 1
cONTRASTING CHARACTERISTICS OF ACTIVE AND DEPENDENT PARTNERSHIPS
Active Partnerships Dependent Partnerships
Process Blueprint, fixed term
Negotiated, changing roles Rigid roles
Clear roles and linkages Blurred roles and linkages
Shared risks Individual interests
Debate and dissent Consensus
Learning Poor communication flows
Activity-based origins Resource-based origins
Aquaculture and development in Bangladesh
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Apart from Bangladesh's dependence on external assistance, the other well-known fact about the country is that there
is for much of the year a vast quantity of water covering the country and a periodic vulnerability to disastrous flooding.
Both of these facts are relevant to the present discussion. Fish represent an important part of the local diet and constitute
an estimated 75 percent of animal protein intake. Fish have in the past tended to be captured--that is, caught as opposed
to cultured--from rivers, lakes, and floodplains. As wild sources have declined, the country's extensive water resources
are now seen as being ripe for an aquaculture development strategy-- the culturing of fish in ponds--by the Bangladesh
government and many development agencies. While some large landowners have traditionally undertaken extensive fish-
rearing practices as a hobby in village ponds, more intensive aquaculture techniques are quite new to most ordinary
villagers.
At the same time, Bangladesh's economic dependency renders it vulnerable to a multi-donor, externally determined
project culture that can strongly shape prevailing development *40 strategies and weaken local development
institutions. It is within this context that aquaculture has become a major development objective in Bangladesh. Indeed,
it is coming to replace the objective of expanding agricultural production because there is no more uncultivated land
available, but there are an estimated 2 million ponds that are underutilized as far as their potential for aquaculture
is concerned. It is widely perceived that Bangladesh contains a wealth of un- or underutilized water resources. 16 The
reasons for this underutilization remain obscure and complex but may be a consequence of social factors such as the
lack of secure access to water bodies by the poor, the conflicting use of ponds for irrigation or washing in most villages,
and a lack of technical knowledge of fish rearing among farmers. 17
The government's strategy for aquaculture is primarily production oriented, without much concern for the problem of
the uneven distribution of economic benefits between rich and poor households. Furthermore, it favors a technology
transfer model that places little emphasis on farmers' needs, views, and perspectives. In contrast, many NGOs favor
the promotion of aquaculture as a potential supplementary income-generation activity for Bangladesh's landless and
marginal households. These NGOs form groups and provide credit, training, and help with gaining access to inputs.
Many of the NGOs are also seeking to include farmers in the joint design and promotion of appropriate technologies.
The project
The Aquaculture Project seeks to develop and provide low-cost, low-input aquaculture technologies mainly in the form
of an extension message detailing appropriate pond management techniques, including fish-stocking densities, feeding
regimes, pond preparation, and appropriate species mixes that can be readily used by low-income rural households
toward their income-generation activity portfolios. The main idea is that groups of low-income rural people, particularly
women, may be able to utilize local ponds, ditches, and other small bodies of water to grow fish for subsistence and
for the local market.
The two main factors that have generated a perceived need for NGO-government partnership in the project are (1)
limitations to the government's aquaculture extension efforts in terms of numbers of staff, coverage, and their mobility;
and (2) the absence of research and extension linkages in aquaculture between NGOs and government agencies, combined
with the need for more appropriate technology packages for low-income farmers. These potential complementarities
between NGOs and government agencies formed the rationale for partnerships within the *41 Aquaculture Project. A
further complementary link is founded on the ability of the IARC to provide “technical backstopping” to government
and NGOs on the basis of its international research facilities and contacts.
The main constraint on aquaculture is portrayed by the project primarily in technical terms. Farmers provide the
scientists with feedback on new technologies through NGO field staff and Department of Fisheries (DOF) extension
workers. Each NGO group maintains a detailed pond data book for this purpose. The key assumptions are that NGOs
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need technical assistance in their aquaculture programs, which can be met by specialized training, and that NGOs have
comparative strengths in developing links at the grass roots. 18
Research and extension through training and feedback are the main activities that the Aquaculture Project seeks to
strengthen. The project supports these activities directly, but partnership linkages are also seen as an important means
of strengthening the activities and making them more effective. The partnership linkages are not therefore the objective
of the project, but, rather, a means to an end. The three main aims are (1) allocating resources more effectively, (2)
improving institutional sustainability, and (3) increasing the level of farmer participation.
The origins of the Aquaculture Project can be found in informal links between a number of members of NGO field staffs
and members of the Aquaculture Research Institute (ARI), which emerged during the late 1980s when one of the larger
NGOs was starting its aquaculture program and required some technical assistance. At that time, the IARC was already
in contact with ARI. At the same time, the bilateral donor was looking for ways to improve the effectiveness of its work
in strengthening national agricultural research institutes, including ARI, in Bangladesh.
The Aquaculture Project involves three government agencies and five Bangladeshi NGOs along with the IARC and
is designed to strengthen ARI's aquaculture research capacity and responsiveness to farmers' needs, along with the
capacity of the wider extension system, which now encompasses both government and NGOs. There are three different
government agencies taking part in the IARC project: ARI, the DOF, and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council
(BARC). ARI is the public sector research body responsible for aquaculture. ARI is a relatively new institution without
access to adequate resources and with relatively low staff morale, but was judged by the IARC to have the potential to
make a contribution to developing relevant technologies if provided with suitable financial support from the bilateral
donor and “““technical backstopping” by the IARC.
The DOF manages the national countrywide extension service, but it, too, lacks sufficient personnel and resources, with
only one fisheries extension *42 officer in each thana, the local government unit which in some areas may contain
around a quarter of a million people. The Aquaculture Project, therefore, seeks to bring NGO field-workers into a
collaborative relationship with DOF staff, despite the fact that the DOF is driven more by production targets than any
real interest in targeted poverty reduction. Finally, BARC is the apex body that coordinates research and evaluates the
project, although in practice BARC appears to lack a clear function within the project because it has only limited capacity
to monitor activities in the field.
Along with the three government agencies, there are five Bangladeshi NGOs involved in the IARC project. In order
to overcome the constraints of the government extension system, the project has invited NGOs to act as additional
extension agents, working in partnership with the DOF, to distribute the technology to their own target groups. The
NGOs are also expected to provide feedback on adoption results and research needs to the scientists and trainers at ARI.
NGO field staff are trained by ARI and IARC personnel alongside DOF so that this training can then be passed on to
the farmers by further demonstration and training. In addition, the NGOs provide credit to their group members that
allows them to diversify their household economic portfolios into aquaculture.
An analysis of the project
There was evidence that the project was providing NGOs with opportunities to gain access to technical assistance with
their aquaculture programs, to report back adoption problems encountered by the farmers with whom they work, and
to begin to form ties with government agencies in aquaculture for the first time. By late 1994, a total of 3563 farmers (of
whom 2029 were women) had been trained, 900 ponds had been cultivated using the proposed new technology package,
and the technology appeared to be effective when applied by the farmers.
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An initial feedback loop from the farmers, through NGOs, to researchers has been created by the project. For example,
modifications have been made to the Aquaculture Project's initially uniform technology package, which has now been
redesigned into several optional packages. This was done in order to take account of different agro-ecological priorities
based on feedback from farmers via participating NGOs in different parts of the country. Furthermore, NGOs and
government researchers are now, perhaps for the first time, talking to each other about aquaculture. On paper, the stated
objectives have been largely met.
But there was also a range of problems with the partnerships, particularly once the project was viewed as being embedded
in wider processes and context. There were limitations embodied in the contrast between the rhetoric of the project's
collaborative approach and the reality of many of the participating agencies' working approaches. This is not the place
to provide an exhaustive list of these limitations, but several problems can be mentioned briefly. Tensions were evident
between the large national *43 and the small local NGOs, which militated against effective sharing of learning and
experiences. The role of BARC had become unclear (it had not carried out its monitoring activities), and its participation
was later brought to an end by the project.
The role of the IARC in supporting ARI, which in practice was underre-sourced and undermotivated as a research
institution, had a far higher profile than had been intended at the outset. ARI had retained a top-down technology-
transfer approach in its work, characterized by the idea that “the scientist knows best,” in stark contrast to the
Aquaculture Project's stated participatory, farmer-centered approach. Nor was learning taking place between this
Aquaculture Project and similar initiatives under way with other bilateral donors in other parts of the country.
Findings indicated that partnership needed to be viewed not as a simple functional relationship but as a process in which
mechanisms, goals, and outcomes must be continually reviewed by all those involved in the project. Some problems were
identified and resolved. However, other difficulties will remain since a process, open-systems view of development warns
against seeing projects as linear, controllable events. 19 Furthermore, despite the emphasis on technical constraints in the
perceptions of the government and the IARC, it remains likely that social factors may remain important in restricting
the growth of small-scale aquaculture in Bangladesh.
CONCLUSION
This article has presented a general description and analysis of the NGO sector in Bangladesh and, despite a number of
distinctive, indigenous characteristics, has emphasized the sector's strong external linkages. It notes the significance and
dynamism of the NGO sector, but urges caution in equating this sector simply with civil society. As Michael Bratton
has pointed out in relation to Africa, civil society in Bangladesh needs to be examined in terms of its own distinctive
institutional forms and not simply through the lens of Western donor models of governance. 20
The recently published World Bank report is an advocacy document that seeks to educate the government to view
NGOs as partners rather than as rivals. However, the logic of “antagonistic cooperation” shows that NGOs, donors,
and the state have long been locked into a mutually reinforcing structure of conflictual relationships. 21 This is clear in
the arena of aquaculture, where Bangladesh's economic dependency renders it vulnerable to a multi-donor, externally
determined project culture that can strongly shape prevailing development *44 strategies and weaken local development
institutions. What was interesting about the aquaculture project from a research perspective was not whether it was
successful in its own terms but, rather, the insights it offered on the wider processes of aid-dependent development in
Bangladesh and the role of NGOs in development processes. There are similarities with Ferguson's concept of the “anti-
politics machine,” in which complex and potentially conflictual political questions are reduced to technocratic models
of institutional roles and actions. 22
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The problem of aquaculture had been constituted according to agency interests and not according to farmers' realities:
technical solutions to the underutilization of ponds were proposed through the development and extension of new low-
cost technologies for low-income farmers, even though most studies of aquaculture in Bangladesh point to a range of
social and political problems around pond access, tenure, and multiple use as significant constraints. Second, it was found
that the division of labor among participating agencies did not correspond to the actual roles carried out on the ground,
and the motivations of participating agencies were sometimes different from those stated in the formal project plans.
For example, one Bangladeshi NGO took part because it wished to try to influence government fishery policy through
lobbying for a more ecologically sound policy, not because it saw itself as a delivery channel for redundant technological
packages. The government fishery research institute took part because it needed access to funds, not because it had the
relevant research capacity for working with groups of marginal farmers.
On one hand, the use of the word “partnership” reflected the technocratic language of scientific solutions to complex
development problems of distribution, power, and access to resources, while on the other it corresponded to prevailing
donor wishes for government-NGO partnership in keeping with a view of civil society that has become fashionable in
the mid-1990s.
This article has tried to show that a discourse of partnership has been constituted at both the project level (the aquaculture
case) and the national policy level (the World Bank report). Under conditions of foreign aid provision, partnership can
be viewed as a discourse in part produced by Bangladesh's dependent position in the structures through which provision
of international aid takes place and in the changing policy agenda in which this provision is located. 23 External pressures
may encourage dependent partnerships to form such that agencies work together based on the availability of resources
rather than on common objectives and shared risks. Not only *45 this, but entire problems, such as the technical
constraints on aquaculture, are created in order that they may be addressed through NGO-government linkages.
And yet Bangladesh's NGO sector cannot be explained away simply in terms of its subservience to donor resource flows
and imposed policy agendas. While retaining their externally determined resource bases (although it should be noted
that BRAC now generates more than a third of its income through its own economic activities), some NGOs have been
gaining more room for maneuver in recent years. During the second half of the 1990s, NGOs have become more involved
in high-profile political protest at the national level. 24
Since the resignation of opposition MPs from parliament in 1994, a broad-based movement led by the Awami League
called for a neutral caretaker government to oversee elections. Less cautious than in 1991, NGOs participated in the
1996 movement through three activities during March coordinated by the Association of Development Agencies in
Bangladesh: a press release, a citizens' rally in conjunction with the business community organization the Federation of
Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and a human chain outside parliament. When elections duly followed
in June, there was a stronger role than ever before for NGOs in encouraging active participation and fair conduct. NGO
participation in voter education was indicative of this new wider political role for NGOs as actors capable of presenting
alternative meaning and ideologies. 25 It is an open question whether these events constitute a new phase in the history
of Bangladesh's NGO sector.
Footnotes
a1 David Lewis is lecturer in nongovernmental organizations at the Centre for Voluntary Organisation, Department of Social Policy
and Administration, London School of Economics and Political Science, where he is convenor of the master of science degree
in management of nongovernmental organizations. He has undertaken research and consultancy work in Bangladesh, India, Sri
Lanka, and Nepal for a number of governmental and nongovernmental agencies. His most recent publication is Anthropology,
Development and the Post-Modern Challenge, written with K. Gardner.
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1See, for example, Julie Fisher, The Road from Rio: Sustainable Development and the Nongovernmental Movement in the Third
World (London: Praeger, 1994); Lester Salmon, Partners in Public Service: Government-Nonprofit Relations in the Modern
Welfare State (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994); Michael Edwards and David Hulme, eds., Too Close
for Comfort? NGOs, States and Donors (London: Macmillan, 1996).
2A. N. Chowdhury, Let Grassroots Speak: People's Participation, Self-Help Groups and NGOs in Bangladesh (Dhaka: University
Press, 1989).
3Susan Holcombe, Managing to Empower: The Grameen Bank's Experience of Poverty Alleviation (London: Zed Books, 1995).
4David J. Lewis, “NGO-Government Interaction in Bangladesh: Overview,” in NGOs and the State in Asia: Rethinking Roles
in Sustainable Agricultural Development, ed. John Farrington and David J. Lewis with S. Satish and Aurea Miclat-Teves
(London: Rout-ledge, 1993).
5From Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, Annual Report 1994 (Dhaka: Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee,
1995); Proshika Manobik Unnayan Kendra, Annual Activity Report July 93-June 94 (Dhaka: Proshika Manobik Unnayan
Kendra, 1995).
6Mark Robinson, “Governance, Democracy and Conditionality: NGOs and the New Policy Agenda,” in Governance,
Democracy and Conditionality: What Role for NGOs? ed. Andrew Clayton (Oxford: International NGO Research and Training
Centre, 1993).
7Other reasons may include the possibility of generating income from the large number of middle-class families wishing to
provide their children with a private education within the country who are disillusioned with the public sector universities but
are unwilling or unable to seek places abroad.
8Mahabub Hossain, Bangladesh Economic Performance and Prospects (London: Overseas Development Institute, 1990).
9Joseph Devine, “Bangladesh Elections 1996: A Turning Point for NGOs?” (Ph.D. field research report, University of Bath,
1996).
10 Joel Migdal, Strong Societies and Weak States: State-Society Relations in the Third World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Press, 1988); Sarah C. White, “NGOs, Civil Society and the State in Bangladesh: The Politics of Representing the Poor” (Paper
delivered at the conference “Bangladesh 1971-96: Past, Present and Future,” Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London,
1996).
11 Gordon White, “Civil Society, Democratisation and Development (I): Clearing the Analytical Ground,” Democratisation,
1:3 (Autumn 1994).
12 White, “NGOS, Civil Society and the State in Bangladesh.”
13 Harry Blair, “Donors, Democratisation and Civil Society: Relating Theory to Practice,” in Too Close for Comfort? ed. Hulme
and Edwards.
14 John Farrington and Anthony Bebbington, Reluctant Partners? NGOs, the State and Sustainable Agricultural Development
(London: Routledge, 1993); Farrington and Lewis with Satish and Miclat-Teves, eds., NGOs and the State in Asia.
15 Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press, 1995).
16 David J. Lewis, Geoffrey D. Wood, and Richard Gregory, Trading the Silver Seed: Local Knowledge and Market Moralities
in Aquacultural Development (London: Intermediate Technology, 1996).
17 Eric Worby, “Hitting Hairs and Splitting Targets: Anthropological Perspectives on Fish Culture Technology Transfer
Through NGOs in Bangladesh” (Paper delivered at a Rockefeller Foundation conference, Addis Ababa, 1994).
NGOS, DONORS, AND THE STATE IN BANGLADESH, 554 Annals Am. Acad. Pol. &...
© 2016 Thomson Reuters. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. 10
18 M. V. Gupta and M. S. Shah, “NGO Linkages in Developing Aquaculture as a Sustainable Farming Activity--A Case Study
from Bangladesh.” (Paper delivered at the Asian Farming Systems Symposium, Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 1992).
19 Stephen Biggs and Arthur Neame, “Negotiating Room for Manoeuvre: Reflections Concerning NGO Autonomy and
Accountability Within the New Policy Agenda,” in Non-Governmental Organizations--Performance and Accountability:
Beyond the Magic Bullet, ed. Michael Edwards and David Hulme (London: Earthscan, 1995).
20 Michael Bratton, “Civil Society and Political Transition in Africa,” Institute for Development Research Reports, 11(6) (1994).
21 Bishwapriya Sanyal, “Antagonistic Cooperation: A Case Study of NGOs, Government and Donors' Relationships in Projects
in Bangladesh,” World Development, 19(10):1367-79 (1994).
22 James Ferguson, The Anti-Politics Machine: “Development,” Depoliticization and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1990).
23 Katy Gardner and David Lewis, Anthropology, Development and the Post-Modern Challenge (London: Pluto, 1996); Escobar,
Encountering Development; Ferguson, Anti-Politics Machine.
24 Devine, “Bangladesh Elections 1996.”
25 Ibid.
554 ANAMAPSS 33
End of Document © 2016 Thomson Reuters. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
... 8. For more detailed information on NGO typologies, see, for example, Clark (1991), Desai (1997), Devine (1996), Edwards and Hulme (1992), Farrington and Bebbington (1993), Farrington and Lewis (1993) and Lewis (1992Lewis ( , 1997). 11. ...
... The notion of the 'weak state' as defined by Migdal is the incapacity to 'regulate social relationships, extract resources, and appropriate or use resources in determined ways' (Migdal 1984:4, cited in Devine 1998). It has been applied to Bangladesh by Crow (1990), Devine (1996Devine ( , 1998, Lewis (1997) and White (1996). ...
Thesis
This thesis explores how low-income women in Bangladesh experience empowerment on a day to day basis. I take a holistic approach incorporating economic, social and embodied dimensions of empowerment into the analysis. I seek to understand how women are able to reshape their lives, make their own choices and open new spaces for themselves. The vocational training programme for poor rural women by the grassroots organisation Gonoshasthaya Kendra provides the setting for my case study of women's empowerment. The research on which this thesis is based employed an in-depth qualitative methodology, participant observation and a social survey of current trainees. The Gonoshasthaya Kendra programme aims to challenge the myths and misinterpretations surrounding appropriate roles for women in Bangladeshi society. It does this by offering non-traditional employment training for women. Participants are trained in skilled manual and technical trades and services such as welding, carpentry, plumbing, printing and professional driving. In addition to creating new employment opportunities, Gonoshasthaya Kendra provides a space for women to establish collective social relationships. These offer women a source of social support which can complement or even replace family and kinship networks. They can also form the basis for collective action in pursuit of women's interests. The experience of Gonoshasthaya Kendra women serves to demonstrate to their families and communities that alternative gender roles are possible in Bangladesh. I argue for a reassessment of current notions of empowerment, stressing women's own accounts of their lived and embodied experiences. This approach to understanding empowerment acknowledges women's agency and ability to effect change in their own lives and in those of others. This thesis also contributes to challenging the representation of women in Bangladesh as a victimised, powerless and invisible group.
... A corollary assumption coming out of historical views of civil society is that the growth of associational activity (often in the form of organizations) is a universal part of development (Lewis 1997;SustainAbility 2003;Tandon 1994) and helps to make transparent local people's needs and aspirations (Edwards et al. 1999;Farrington and Bebbington 1994;Sen 1999). This optimistic view of civil society was followed by critical perspectives concerning 'uncivil society' and the hijacking of civil society discourses in international development for political purposes (Boyd 2004;Monga 2009;Stewart 1997). ...
... Primarily NGOs stressed on relief and rehabilitation activities after the War of the liberation of Bangladesh and succeeding natural calamities after that international and local NGOs shifted their operations to long-term development activities where the govt. operations cannot reach (Lewis, 1997). Now, the main role of NGOs in Bangladesh is helping deprived rural mass through facilitating self -employment generation, education, health care, nutritional status, family planning, financing and so on (Siciliano, 1997). ...
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... The projects were left short due to uncertainty of aid and fund. According to David Lewis (1997), the civil society role of NGOs has never been that successful in Bangladesh because of underlying social, economic, and political interest and dependency of NGOs on state and donor source. In explaining the peacebuilding function of NGOs in CHT, Chakma (2019) narrate that the ‗risk of sustainability' of NGOs are fund uncertainty and internal and external interest, government officials interruption, mistrust and profit and fund share culture among the NGO staffs and corporate groups. ...
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The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region of Bangladesh represents the close combination of the settlements of several indigenous communities, and the communities have the specific socio-economic tradition; the influence of colonial administration, national bureaucratic domination, neo-liberal promise, and frequent policy regulations in the issues relating to their right to the ownership of land. Considering the historical conflicts and reality, the area is composed of various voluntary and profit-based organizations that aim to provide livelihood and capacity enhancement support to the co-existing indigenous peoples. From the ground of the structural development initiatives and learning, the study examines the pattern of ongoing grassroots organizations led by indigenous people in the CHT, their limitations, and the initiatives taken by them. The paper aims to analyze the role of micro-organizational development in addressing the socio-political emphasis in the CHT during the study period (June 2018 to December 2019). Although the studied organizations are concerned with particular social needs and most of them are in the legal framework, the internal network has several concerns, including rights of land, language, empowerment, poverty, and gender, religion, and settlement issues in the CHT Adivasi context. The study was conducted in three CHT districts–Rangamati, Bandarban, and Khagrachhari–taking two upazilas (subdistricts) from each district. The study follows qualitative analysis; the grassroots organizations have been categorized on a sector-wise basis to explain the needs and functions of the organizations. Moreover, the study proposes the possible alternatives in the cohesion to the formation of inter-ethnic identity by analyzing the activities of the small-scale indigenous organizations in the CHT.
... Selanjutnya, terdapat tulisan lain yang membahas tentang peran NGO di bidang pembangunan (Lewis, 1997). Tulisan Kwiatkowski (2005) menjelaskan tentang peran NGO di bidang kesehatan di Filipina. ...
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This paper explains why Humana, as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), provides education to children from Indonesian Migrant Workers (TKI) in Sabah Malaysia. Humana as an NGO in Malaysia has been provided education for marginalized children in Sabah. In fact, Indonesia has given attention to the education of TKI’s children in Sabah. However, Humana continues to provide education services to TKI’s children in Sabah. Humana has a reason to keep up on this issue. This paper collects data from the Indonesian government, including Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia, and the NGO Humana. This paper finds that Humana has a basic idea that encourages targets and goals which in turn provides education for TKI’s children in Sabah.
... Bangladesh is known as the home of NGOs with at least one NGO existing in 90% of villages (in Brass et al. 2018;Gauri and Galef 2005). It is also the country with the largest indigenous development NGOs (Lewis 1997). Islam (2016) mentioned the terms community development and NGO are synonymous in Bangladesh. ...
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The intervention of faith-based non-governmental organizations in the development area is no more an ignored topic due to their comprehensive coverage in humanitarian assistance, rise of global identity politics, and the changing ideological view of development donors and policymakers. However, such engagements are prone to criticisms. This paper aims to report the qualitative findings highlighting the strengths and challenges of faith-based non-governmental organizations in community development, based on a broader convergent parallel mixed-method study of the first author’s PhD work. The study was conducted in the north-western region of Bangladesh, where Islamic Relief Worldwide, a faith-based international nongovernmental organization, implemented the Action for Peoples’ Rights and Livelihood (APRIL) project for community development. Using a qualitative approach, this study gathered data from in-depth interviews of 11 participants, five focus groups, and 10 key informants. Results showed that faith-based non-governmental organizations made significant contributions in providing services to the ultra-poor without discrimination, offering flexible “pressure-free” loans, and developing a sense of community ownership. Within this spectrum, this study found a number of challenges in the community development efforts. These include (a) continuation of the provision of interest-free loans, (b) sustaining community-based organizations, (c) labeling of proselytization, and (d) deficient implementation mechanisms. Although this paper focuses on a faith-based non-governmental organization in Bangladesh, the findings have global implications, especially addressing the knowledge gap in the existing literature. Keywords Bangladesh, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Faith-based non-governmental organizations, Community development. Community empowerment.
... Bangladesh is known as the home of NGOs with at least one NGO existing in 90% of villages (in Brass et al. 2018;Gauri and Galef 2005). It is also the country with the largest indigenous development NGOs (Lewis 1997). Islam (2016) mentioned the terms community development and NGO are synonymous in Bangladesh. ...
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Full-text available
The intervention of faith-based non-governmental organizations in the development area is no more an ignored topic due to their comprehensive coverage in humanitarian assistance, rise of global identity politics, and the changing ideological view of development donors and policymakers. However, such engagements are prone to criticisms. This paper aims to report the qualitative findings highlighting the strengths and challenges of faith-based non-governmental organizations in community development, based on a broader convergent parallel mixed-method study of the first author’s PhD work. The study was conducted in the north-western region of Bangladesh, where Islamic Relief Worldwide, a faith-based international non-governmental organization implemented the Action for Peoples’ Rights and Livelihood (APRIL) project for community development. Using a qualitative approach, this study gathered data from in-depth interviews of 11 participants, five focus groups, and 10 key informants. Results showed that faith-based non-governmental organizations made significant contributions in providing services to the ultra-poor without discrimination, offering flexible “pressure-free” loans, and developing a sense of community ownership. Within this spectrum, this study found a number of challenges in the community development efforts. These include (a) continuation of the provision of interest-free loans, (b) sustaining community-based organizations, (c) labeling of proselytization, and (d) deficient implementation mechanisms. Although this paper focuses on a faith-based non-governmental organization in Bangladesh, the findings have global implications, especially addressing the knowledge gap in the existing literature.
... This strategy should be distinguished from the move towards networks, alliances and coalitions described earlier on. Partnerships (despite its contested definition) between Northern NGOs and Southern NGOs have a long history in international development (Lewis 1997;Fowler 2000a). Since the early 1990s, several international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) have entered different forms of partnerships with Ghanaian NGOs to finance their projects, build capacities and at times jointly work on some programmes and projects (Porter 2003;Elbers and Arts 2011). ...
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There is growing evidence suggesting that nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) in lower-middle-income countries and emerging economies are facing challenges about their sustainability due to changing aid patterns for development. While the changing development context and the challenges posed to NGOs are increasingly receiving research attention, an understanding of how organisations are responding remains very limited. This article draws on 65 qualitative interviews and presents findings about how NGOs in Ghana, West Africa, are responding to the emerging concerns about their sustainability in the context of the changing aid landscape. Findings suggest that NGOs in Ghana are combining at least six main strategies to attain sustainability. We have categorised these as: (1) eggs-in-multiple-baskets; (2) costcutting; (3) strength-in-numbers; (4) security-under-partnership; (5) credibility-building; and (6) visibility-enhancing strategies.
Thesis
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