NGOs and Their Role in the Triadic Development Process

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Forced evictions appear to have become a common practice in lieu of sustainable urban planning and inclusive social policies, both in many developed and developing countries – UN-Habitat (2007:iv)

The study set out, through an investigation into the Zimbabwean experience, to examine the role local Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) can play to uphold human rights in a repressive environment, in response to state-induced internal displacement situations.

The debate about NGOs and their role in the triadic development process (state, markets and NGOs) is explored. While NGOs have been projected as the development ombudsman, questions about their effectiveness, transparency accountability, and being a mechanism of elite capture remain. While International Human Rights Law, Humanitarian Law and Refugee Law, provide for the relief and protection of Internally Displaced persons (IDPs), the domestic legal framework in Zimbabwe, however, brings to the fore the tensions that characterise NGO/State relations.

This study is qualitative. It was conducted through library research (of secondary sources on the subject). Use was also made of the internet as a source of information. The research reviewed related literature, and analysed reports on the subject, drawing out the salient features relating to development and human rights issues.

The study revealed that internal displacement is a long-term phenomenon that has severe impacts on the lives of individuals, families, whole communities and societies both at the psycho-social and economic levels.

NGO roles included risk reduction and social and legal protection of the displaced - in the complex emergency response situation in Zimbabwe occasioned in 2005 by Operation Murambatsvina. However, these roles have to be understood in the context of Cohen and Deng’s (2000) argument that the mandates and charters of NGOs delivering services do not specifically direct them to help or target the internally...
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