Chapter 23 - The role of nongovernmental organizations in extension John Farrington
John Farrington is an agricultural economist and Director of the Rural Resources and Poverty Research Programme at the Overseas Development Institute in London.
Examples of potentially replicable NGO-GO interaction
What extension services can do to further collaborate with NGOs Conclusions
In recent years, many observers have suggested that agricultural and rural development strategies would benefit from increased collaboration between government research and extension organizations and nongovernmental development organizations, hereafter called GOs and NGOs, respectively (Can-oil, 1992; de Janvry et al., 1989; Jordan, 1989; Korten, 1987). Donors in particular have begun to call for more NGO involvement in programmes that have traditionally been implemented through the public sector, and there has been a recent upsurge of donor interest in direct-funding south-based NGOs (World Bank, 1991a, 1991b; Farnworth, 1991; Bebbington & Riddell, 1994). These advocates of closer NGO-GO collaboration have tended to underemphasize: The wide range of interaction that currently exists, not all of it collaborative; much involves pressure by one side or the other. The limitations facing efforts to work together.
The preconditions for successful collaboration; in particular, the prior informal contacts necessary to build up mutual trust. Limitations as well as successes of NGO action.
The extent to which certain functions relating to, for example, "public goods" will remain more cost-effectively performed by the public sector than by NGOs. Analysis of how GOs might work with NGOs must be accompanied by continuing attention to ways of improving public sector management, an area in which structural adjustment reforms have not had the success expected. This chapter draws on a recent major study of the role of NGOs in sustainable agricultural development and the potential for collaborative links with GOs (Farrington & Bebbington, 1993; Bebbington & Thiele, 1993; Farrington & Lewis, 1993; Wellard & Copestake, 1993). The following will be reviewed: the characteristics of NGOs, their strengths and weaknesses in relation to agricultural technology, and the practical ways in which they and public sector extension services might collaborate more fully in the future. NGO characteristics
NGOs are defined here as nonmembership development-oriented organizations. Our concern here is with the stronger of the south-based NGOs that provide services either directly to the rural poor or to grass-roots membership organizations, and with the local branches of international NGOs that enjoy varying degrees of autonomy. They are therefore distinct from (but, as discussed below, often linked with) formal and informal membership organizations such as farmers' associations. But even within this definition, there exists wide diversity of origins and philosophy. Some NGOs were set up by left-leaning professionals or academics in opposition to the politics of government or its support for or indifference to the prevailing patterns of corruption, patronage, or authoritarianism. Some are based on religious principles, others on a broadly humanitarian ethos, and yet others were set up as quasi-consultancy concerns in response to recent donor-funding initiatives. Some NGOs reject existing social and political structures and see themselves as engines for radical change; others focus on more gradual change through development of human resources (usually through group formation) to meet their own needs or to make claims on government services; yet others focus more simply on the provision of services (e.g., advice, input supply) largely within existing structures. Their ideological orientations also differ widely in relation to agricultural technology: many are concerned with low external input...