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BrianBolzan IMPProjectProspectus InternationalDevelopment 20April2012 NGOs:SocialEmpowermentforSustainableDevelopment?

NGOsthatareaccountabletotheneedsofthecommunitytheyoperate

withinarethemostsuccessfulatimplementingsustainabledevelopment.Themost appropriatemeasureofsuccessinNGOsissustainabledevelopmentorhowlong termtheirinitiativesarefocused.Itisthemostresilientmodelwhenconsidering manyofthecomplexproblemsfacedbydevelopingregions.Developmentisnotone sizefitsalland,thus,interventionsneedtobecommunityspecificinorderto implementsolutionsthatmeettheneedsofbothcurrentandfuturegenerations. Nongovernmentalorganizationsareforemostaccountabletotheexpectationsof theirdonors;thiscansometimesbedivergentwiththeactualneedsoftheir constituency.Frequently,NGOschannelaidresourcestowardinfrastructural upgradesthatefficientlydeliversocialservicestocommunities.However,the transmissionoftechnicalandorganizationalskillsdoesntalwaysoccuratthesame rateasthetransferofthetechnology.Thisreducestheautonomyofcommunitiesto maintaintheirinfrastructureand,counterintuitively,cancreatedependence. Failure,then,canbeseenasthelackofinvestmentandeducationinthelocal capacitytomaintaininfrastructure.NGOsachievesustainabledevelopmentwhen

theyengageinsocialempowermentinadditiontothedevelopmentofessential infrastructure. InternationalDevelopmentassistanceandbyextensiontheaidsystemwere traditionallyfunctionsofthestate.Theintroductionofneoliberalreformsunderthe WashingtonConsensusintheglobalSouthrationalizedtheefficiencyofthefree marketindeliveringeconomicgrowth.Neoliberalpolicyprescriptionsofthe InternationalMonetaryFundandWorldBankconditioneddevelopingcountriesinto makingstructuraladjustmentstotradebarriers,privatizeservices,andderegulate industryinordertosecureloansforinfrastructuraldevelopment.Theexpectationis thatbyreducingnationalfiscalimbalances,economiesshouldbecomemoremarket orientedandraiselivingstandards.However,thismodelisnotuniversally adaptableandevenwithmoreparticipatoryapproachesofdraftingPoverty ReductionStrategyPaperstheoutcomehaspredictablybeeneconomicstagnation (Atack855).Nongovernmentalorganizations,asthethirdactor,havehadto assumethefunctionofdeliveringsocialserviceswiththediminishedroleofthe stateindevelopment.Theirrelativeautonomyanddepoliticizedorganizationhave enabledNGOstointerveneandimplementsustainabledevelopmentprojectsin underdevelopedregionswithvaryingdegreesofsuccess.Theeffectivenessof initiativesdependsonhowNGOsassesstheirtargets,howresourcesareallocated, howprojectsaremanaged,andtheirlongtermefficacy.Projectsthatfocusonlong

termimpactratherthanshorttermoutputofcapitalareinherentlymoregrassroots orientedand,thus,moreeffectiveatimplementingdynamicinfrastructure. Thedeclineofthestatesroleindevelopmenthassignifiedatransitionfrom topdownbureaucraticgrowthtoamoredemocratizedbottomupapproachto socialimprovement.NGOsrepresentanewpolicyconsensusofdemocratization, steppingintomeettheneedsofmarginalsectorsofsociety.Ideally,abalanced partnershipbetweenthestateandNGOscouldinstituteameansofholdingnon governmentalorganizationsaccountabletotheinterestsofsociety.Theshifttoward theprovisionofsocialservicesislinkedtonecessityofthepoorestsectionsof populationsintheretreatofthestate.Multilaterallendinginstitutionshavecome underscrutinyinrecentyearsasaidhasbeenmisusedandthemismanagementof projectshasledtoalackofinterventioninmarginalcommunities(Malunga150). NGOsrepresentanalternative,astheyhavebeenmoreefficientatcreatingincome generatingopportunities.Akeytotheirrelativesuccessistheimplementationof beneficiaryparticipationastheirinclusiveapproachtoenablingcapacitybuilding forcommitmenttothemaintenanceofprojects.Thereisnoconflictbetweenthe efficiencyoftheprivateandpublicasthisformofcommunitydevelopmentcreates multiplestakeholderswhohaveacommoninterestinimprovingstandardsofliving. Arguablyoneofthemostredistributivemeansofimplementingsocialsector reformsisthroughtargetingessentialinfrastructurethatcanhelptobufferagainst theeffectsofstructuraladjustment.Often,resourcesaredirectedtowardurban

middleclassprojectsandtothedetrimentofruralpoorareas.Decentralizationof deliveryallowsdecisionsaboutresourceallocationtobemadedemocratically, accountabilitytotherequirementsofcommunitycanbemaintained,and connectionsonthegroundlevelensurethatparticipationcanbeincorporated. Efficiencyandflexibilitycanbeachievedasaconsequenceofmobilizing communitiesaroundthetransferofcapacitytopreserveinfrastructure. Developmentisshortlivedwithoutaddressingthecapacityofthelocal communitytomaintaintheprojectsoncetheyareestablished.Sustainable developmentisanincrementalprocessandultimatelyhastobeconsideredin definingthesuccessorfailureofdevelopmentefforts.Notonlydoesempowerment followanaccountableandculturallyrelevantapproachtodevelopinginfrastructure, butitalsoenableslocalknowledgetoinformdevelopmentinterventions.Itis advantageoustofocusresourcestoraisingmateriallivingstandardsandadvancing organizationalskillsequally.Byplacinganemphasisonstrengtheninglocal institutionstoassumemoremanagementresponsibilities,communitieswillremain competentonceNGOsupportisremoved.Socialempowermentfollowsbotha temporalandterminalapproachbyremainingaccountabletotheneedsofthe constituency.Civilsocietyiswellsuitedtotargetmarginalpopulationsdirectlyand utilizeaparticipatorymodelwithinalocalizedcontext.Whetherornot empowermentcanbeincorporatedhastodowiththerelationshipoftheNGOtothe communityandhowtheysituatetheirvalues(Kilby951960).GrassrootsNGOs

challengetheWesternparadigmindevelopmentthought,whichvaluestheexpert knowledgeandsolutionsofspecialistsasrequiredinputforsuccessinthefield. Thus,NGOattemptstostandardizeoperationalproceduresonalargescale,inorder tomoreefficientlydeliversocialservices,failtoeffectivelyimplementsustainable growth(Edwards461).Thereisnouniversallyapplicablemodelforcommunity development,asitdoesntoccurinavacuumandisdependentonexternal pressures.Throughempowerment,peoplereceivetheeducationandskillsto addressdeeprootedproblemsandstructuralinequalitiesofaccesstobasicneeds. GlobalVisionInternational,aninternationalNGO,operatesatthegrassroots levelinFiji,implementingabottomupapproachtomoredemocraticallyimprove theconditionsofthecommunitiesitworkswithin.Itsworkingpartnershipwiththe indigenousorganizationtheYassawaTrustFoundationensuredthatinitiatives weredirectedtowardnecessity.Theseremotevolcanicislandshavelimitednatural watercatchmentandbecomesubjecttodraughtsinthedryseason.Theplausible solutionwastoincreasewatercapacitybyinstallingrainwaterharvestingtanksto ensureadequateaccesstosafedrinkingwateryearround.Workingcloselywiththe YassawaTrustFoundation27villageswereassessedforongoingwatersecurity issues.Thisparticipatoryapproachenabledtheupgradingofcurrentinfrastructure andinstallationofcommunalcatchmenttankswhereitwasagreedtheywouldbe mosteffective.BasedofftheYassawaTrustrequirementmodelof5litersper personperdayduringthedryseasonanappraisalofresourcescouldbemadeand

necessarymaterialswerepurchased(Lund139).Theemployofwaterfiltersand lockabletapsensuredqualityandquantitymanagementofwaterreserves.Added emphasiswasplacedonemployinglocalresidentsintheinstallationandupkeepof guttersinthehopethatthisprojectwouldbeselfsustaining.Communityforums andworkshopsmaintainedadirectlineofcommunicationbetweenthevillageand organizationthatenabledamultidirectionalexchangeofideasonimproving infrastructure.Theancillaryissueofdeficientaccesstoruralhealthcareprompted theinitiativetofocusitseffortsoninstallingmeshcoverstopreventdebrisand reusablefiltersthatwouldincreasewatersafety. Inanefforttoimprovevillagenutritionandtoprovidealternativesourcesof incomeGVIimplementedacommunitygardenprogram.Diabetesandotherchronic healthproblemsareaprobableresultofalargescaleabandonmentoftraditional agriculturalpracticesinfavorofcheaperimportedfood.Bymobilizingmarginal sectorsandparticularlywomensgroupsasupplychaincanbecreatedthrough growingafewvalueaddedcropsforsaleandothernutritiousonesforconsumption (Lund139).Fewereconomicactivitiesareavailableforthefemaledemographic whoareoftenengagedprimarilyindomesticlabor,sotheestablishmentof communitygardenswasawelcomedopportunity.Increasedwaterstoragecapacity hasenabledtheplantingofmorewaterintensivecropsyearroundthatcanmeet caloricneedsandprovideadiversityofnutrientstovillagers.Withthehighpriceof fuelfactoringintoeveryimportediteminthisremotechainofislands,moneysaved

canbespentonothernecessities.Theprotectionofthecommonsisimportantto islandcommunities,whichhaveavestedinterestinlivingwithintheirecological capacity.Introductionofconservationprinciplesincludingdripirrigationand compostinganimalmanureworkstocloseametabolicloopinproducingforlocal consumption.Skilltransferandgardentrainingwasstressedinestablishingaviable sharecroppingoperationbasedoncooperativeachievement.Boththerainwater harvestingsystemsandcommunityagriculturewereculturallyderived developmentsthatcarriednetbenefitssocially.Notonlydoesfocusing infrastructureoncommunityrequirementenablethetransferofvaluable technologies,butalsoitimmeasurablyincreasesthefacultyofvillagestoretaina comfortablequalityoflife. Withlowadministrativecostsmostofthefundingtheseprojectsreceivewas allocateddirectlytoupgradesaswellastrainingandempoweringlocalcitizensin themanagement/upkeepofthesetanks.Organizationallythisapproachwas accessibletothepublicinthatitdidntrelyheavilyonspecializedskillsandgavethe villagestheassistancetheyneededtoimprovetheircondition.Thepracticeof draftingwatermanagementplansandassigningresponsibilitysignifieslongterm planning.Ratherthanbeingindicatordriven,theseprojectsweredirectedtoward theprovisionoftechnicalassistanceandskilltransfertoemploylongtermsolutions (Lund139).Failuresofpreviouseffortstotargetdevelopmentobjectiveswere informedbydiscussionsatcommunityforums,whichrecognizedthattankswere

broughtin,butsoonfellintodisrepair.Recognizingfailurewasonlypossiblewitha holisticassessmentoftheshortcomingsofpreviousattemptstoresolvestructural problems.Socialempowermentwasthemaindifferencebetweenthegovernments unsuccessfulattempttoinstallrainwatercollectionsystemsandGVIsapproachthat mobilizedcivilsocietytoimplementgeographicallyspecificsolutions.Theusageof inexpensivecomponentsthatwerereusableanddirectingthecommunityin maintenanceofthesesystemsprioritizedlongevityasthegoal.Participatory developmentwasrealizedintheseinitiativesbyaccountingfortheexpressedneeds ofthepopulationastheobjectiveoftheproject.Theefficientmanagementof naturalresourcesalsocreatedbackwardlinkages,inprovidingwatersecurityto thesevillagesresourcescouldberefocusedoneconomicdevelopment.Bycreating multiplestakeholdersinresourceconservationthegoalofsustainablecommunity developmentwasaccomplishedbothequitablyandeffectively. UsefulcomparisonscanbedrawnfromtheinvolvementofNGOsinpost

apartheidSouthAfricaattemptingtoimplementruraldevelopmentschemes.Witha shrinkingnationalbudgetanddebtburdensmanydevelopmentgainsinSouth Africahavebeenlost,pushingmorepeopleintoabjectpoverty.Theresulthasbeen anincreasedroleofcivilsocietyinmobilizingscarceresourcestogenerate developmentfrombelow.Supportandcapitalinvestmentfromglobalcivilsocietyis necessaryatfirsttocreateeconomicopportunities.Differentialandcompetitively advantagedpracticesstandthebestchanceofbeingsuccessfulinthemarket.

Infrastructuralupgradesarekeytoincreasingefficienciesofscaleandmaking productionprofitable.InitiativesinformerAfricanracialreserves(supposed Homelands)utilizedthecapacityofbusinesscooperativestoenhanceoutput.The employofamoreproactiveapproachfocusedongivingtheindividualexternal supportandusingthemarkettoalleviatepoverty(Nel330).AssertionsofNGOs helpcommunitiestomovebeyondsubsistencestrategiesandtomobilizelocal knowledge/structurestopromoteincomegeneratingactivities.SouthAfrican remainsahighlyunequalsocietywithitspostapartheidlegacy.TheReconstruction andDevelopmentProgramshaveservedtoextendutilitiesintomanycommunities withtheenduringinequalityofaccess.Thisextendstoadeficiencyofmarketaccess forvalueaddedagriculturalproductsofruralblackcommunitiesthatcantcompete withagribusinessinanopenmarket.Scalingupproductioncanbeachieved throughthebandingoffarmersintoanagriculturalcooperativetogainpurchasing powerforinputsandtechnologies.NGOshopedtoutilizecommunalplanningto upgradeinfrastructureandincreasemarketaccessforagriculturalcommodities. TheindigenousNGOHertzogAgriculturalCooperativepromoted endogenousdevelopmenttoempowerpeasantfarmers.Byprocuringlendingfrom commercialbanks,theorganizationwasabletopurchaseland.Aninherited irrigationsystemalreadyinplaceonthelandwasupgradedtofittheneedsofa communityoperation.Agriculturaldevelopmentwaspursuedasanoperationthat couldcreateeconomicopportunities.Householdfoodsecuritywasmetbythis

influxoflocallysupportedproduction,butsecuringmarketswasdifficultwiththe limitedoutputofthisproject.Additionally,withouttheinfrastructuretodeliver outputtosupplychainsmeansthiscooperativehadtosellmostofitsharvest locallyforlessprofit.Externalsupportthathasfinancedthepurchaseofdiesel pumpsenhancedproductivity,buttherewasnotransferoftechnicalknowledgeon upkeepofthesesystems.Planningforplantingschedulesandcroprotationsto intensifyyieldswasextremelytopdownwithlittleaccumulationofexpertiseatthe farmerlevel(Nel330).Theinabilitytosecuremarketaccesswasduetoa fundamentaldisinvestmentinthecapacityofindividualgrowerstodiversifyoutput andoverinvestmentintheinfrastructuretoincreaseefficienciesofscale.Though therewasgrassrootsinvolvementtherewasanoverwhelmingdependenceon externalcapitalthatcreatedexpectationsfortechnologyupgradestoresultin growth.Ifthedirectionofinvestmentweretrulyparticipatorymoreresources wouldhavebeenputintopurchasingavehicletobringproducetolargermarkets.A competitivedisadvantageofqualityandcapacitycomparedtoagribusiness renderedtheagriculturalcooperativeincapableinprovidingsustainable development.Governmentpolicytopromotemarketaccessforthesecommunities wouldalsobebeneficial. TheNGOprovidedtechnicalassistanceandknowledgeoncroprotations, recordkeeping,andloanrepaymentschedulesthisfurtherworkedtoentrenchthe communitysdependence.Communitydriveneconomicdevelopmentcannotbe

focusedonlyoncreatingincomegeneratingopportunities;italsoneedsto transformunderlyingsocialconditionstohavealongtermimpact.Communities needtoincorporatesocialcapitalintoacompetitivemarkettosustainablyimprove theirwelfare.Whenlocalknowledgeislackingitisimperativethatexternal organizationsprovidetrainingintechnicalandorganizationskillstoreduce dependency.Theconstructionofirrigationcanalswasparticipatory,buttheirscale madethisprojecteconomicallyunfeasibleforthislowincomecommunity.The HertzogAgriculturalCooperativeintervenedinthepoorestsectorsofsociety,but failedduetothewithdrawalofkeymanagementpersonnelleavingashortageof mechanicalexpertisetoupkeepirrigationtechnologies(Nel330).NGOsupportfor thisprojectwaslargelyfinancialandmarketaccesswasdealtwithbybringinginan outsideconsultant,whichhelpedinmarketingthefreshproduce.Exportagriculture isaparticularlydifficultengineofdevelopmentasinputsareoftenabottleneckto output.Thisapproachtodevelopmentwasreductionistinthatattemptedtotarget manycomplexfactorssolelyalongeconomiclines.Itfailednotonlybecauseit wasntviableinthelongtermwithoutexternalsupport,butalsointhattherewas nobasistosupportdevelopmentbeyondfoodproduction.Nongovernmental organizationsareonlyaseffectiveastheirteleologicalobjectives,evenwiththebest ofintentionssustainabledevelopmentisnotalwaysrealized. Athirdcasewhichisusefultounderstandingtheintersectionofsocial

empowermentandsustainabledevelopmentforprojectsuccessistheNGOthe

RodaleInstituteinSenegal.UnderpressurefromstructuraladjustmentinSenegal therewasanecessityfortheRegenerativeAgriculturalResourceCentertoimprove farmingpractices.Througheducationandcollaborativeappliedresearch,steps weretakentopromotecommunitydevelopment.Regenerativeagriculturereturns nutrientstodegradedsoilasaconsequenceofproduction.Senegalsconventional agriculturewasunaffordablewithoutgovernmentsubsidiesandoperatedwitha metaboliclossofenergy.Thesovereigndebtcrisisforcedthereductionofrural procurementofinputsandpurchasingofsurplus.Withthedisappearanceof subsidiesandtheincreaseofquotasSenegaleseagriculturewasforcedtochange overnight.TheRodaleInstituteappliedafarmerfirstapproachthatutilizeslocal knowledgetoexpandsustainablenaturalresourcemanagement.Trainingin compostingthroughintegratedlivestockandcropproductionwasprovidedto communitygroups.Capacityforexpandedcultivationwasbuiltbythesuccessful constructionofrockcontourstoimprovesoilconservation.RodaleInstituteasan intermediaryNGOwasaccountabletoboththestipulationsoftheU.S.Agencyfor InternationalDevelopmentandcivilsocietyoftheThiesregionCentralized leadershipwasvaluabletoappliedresearchprogramsthatwereadaptedto differentagriculturalconditions.Monthlymeetingswereheldtocollaborateand determinethemosteffectivemeansofimplementingsoilfertilityenhancementand integrativepestmanagementprograms(Robertson143160).Theoperationsof

RodaleInternationaldifferedfromtheothercasesinthattheyfocusedonsocial empowermentandtechnicalassistanceratherthaninfrastructuraldevelopment. SuccessesofRodalesappliedresearchsecuredmorefundingforthem,

enablingtheexpansionanddiversificationofinstitutionalpractices.Low administrativecostsonthegroundalsoenabledthemtodedicatemoreresourcesto buildnetworksoffarmersandofferawiderrangeofregenerativeagricultural education.Consequentlythispreventedthegrowthofamassiveadministrative bureaucracy,whichrendersanyorganizationalpotentialineffective.Information exchangeenabledtheestablishmentofindigenousprivatepublicpartnerships, whichcouldtrainanddisseminateprinciplesatthevillagelevel.Environmental soundnesseventuallybecameeconomicallyvaluablewiththeestablishmentof villagevegetablegardensandlivestockhusbandryprojects.Technicalassistance wasspecificallydirectedtowardwomensgroupsforhelpwithsecuringloansto buymechanicalgrainmills.Ratherthanchannelingresourcestoruralbeneficiaries likemostaidorganizations,Rodalewasabletomobilizefundstosocial empowermentanddocumenttheimpactsoftheirwork.Rodalesdependenceon developmentgrantspreventeditfromexpandingintotheprovisionof infrastructuralupgrades(Robertson140160).Theresultofthisinvestmentinthe transferoftechnicalskillswascapacitybuildingandincreasedsubsistence,butwith littleinfluenceovereconomicgrowthintheregion.Knowledgeconstructionneeds tobematchedwithcapitalinvestmentincriticalinfrastructurethatpermitsthe

applicationoftechnicalexpertise.Withoutinfrastructuralimprovement, impoverishedcommunitiesremainatsubsistencelevelsandsustainable developmentisunrealized. WiththeGlobalVisionInternationalFijicasethepresenceofsocial

empowermentaroundtheinstallationofinfrastructureenabledsustainable development.Notonlydidtheintegrationoflocallaborandvolunteersgenerate efficienciesofscale,whichtranslatedintomorematerialupgrades,butalso acceleratedthedisseminationoftechnicalexpertiseessentialtothemaintenanceof infrastructure.Equallyasinvaluabletothesuccessofthisprojectwasthe incorporationofcommunityrequirementsintotheprocurementoftechnology transfers.Indevelopmentwork,thetendencyisforexpertknowledgetosupersede localknowledge;thisoftenleadstotheimplementationofthewrongsolutions.The HertzogAgriculturalCooperativeinSouthAfricaattemptedtoreclaimabandoned agriculturallandandreturnittoproduction.Heavyinvestmentinirrigation infrastructureandfarminginputsproducedyieldsintheshortterm,butthefailure torecognizestructuralsocialissuessuchasadeficiencyoftechnicalskillsandalack ofmarketaccesspreventedthisprojectfromenjoyinglongtermfruition.Though subsistencefoodsecuritywasmetbythisinitiativethefailureoftheexport agricultureschemeandthefailuretocreateothereconomicopportunities ultimatelytranslatedintoimpracticality.WiththeRodaleInstituteinSenegalthere wassocialcapacitybuildingintheimplementationofappliedresearch,buta

fundamentallackofinvestmentininfrastructure.Thisisadevelopmentobstacleas Senegaleseagricultureisvalueadded,butnotanincome.Sustainabledevelopment defined,astheabilityofcurrentgenerationtosatisfytheirneedswithout compromisingthoseoffuturegenerationsisbestachievedthroughtheintegration ofsocialempowermentandadaptationofenvironmentallycongenialinfrastructure. NGOsachievesustainabledevelopmentwhentheyengageinsocial

empowermentinadditiontothedevelopmentofessentialinfrastructure.Initiatives thattransferbothtechnicalskillsandinfrastructureefficientlyaresuccessfulat facilitatinglongtermcommunitydevelopment.Developmentisnotonesizefitsall and,thus,interventionsneedtobecommunityspecificinordertoimplement solutionsthatmeettheneedsofbothcurrentandfuturegenerations.Thedeclineof thestatesroleindevelopmenthassignifiedatransitionfromtopdown bureaucraticgrowthtoamoredemocratizedbottomupapproachtosocial improvement.Marketreformshaveatendencytointensifyratherreducesocial inequalities,economicgrowthcannotbeprioritizedoveralleviatingtheeffectsof poverty.NGOsthatincorporatetheparticipatoryneedsofthecommunitiesthey operatewithinarethemostsuccessfulatimplementingsustainablechange.By placinganemphasisonstrengtheningcapacitylocalinstitutionstoassume managementresponsibilities,communitieswillnotbedependentonceexternal supportisremoved.TheeffectivenessofinitiativesdependsonhowNGOsassess theirtargets,howresourcesareallocated,howprojectsaremanaged,andtheir

longtermefficacy.Projectsthatfocusonlongtermimpactratherthanshortterm outputofcapitalareinherentlymoregrassrootsorientedand,thus,moreeffective atimplementingdynamicinfrastructure.Nongovernmentalorganizationsare foremostaccountabletotheexpectationsoftheirdonors;throughefficiencyand organizationalcompetencetheycanbeaccountabletotheirconstituenciesaswell. Notonlydoesfocusinginfrastructureoncommunityrequirementenablethe transferofvaluabletechnologies,butalsoitimmeasurablyincreasesthefacultyof villagestoseekabetterqualityoflife.

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