Non-Governmental Organizations are a significant potential force for promoting implementation of developmental programs and projects such as poverty alleviation in areas such as Africa and Zambia in particular. They have for example, pioneered participatory methods in project design and implementation and are strong advocates of strategies that view the poor as economic and social actors rather than passive recipients of welfare.
This essay seeks to discuss the concept of ‘Just Development’ and the reasons as to why Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) find this concept appealing to them. To achieve this, the essay will first define Non-Governmental Organizations in detail and further describe their various classifications.
It will also discuss the origins of these NGOs and briefly describe their operations. The essay will then look at the definition of the concept of ‘Just Development’ and then show clearly, why NGOs find this concept appealing to them. Finally, a conclusion will be given to wrap it all up.
There is a great diversity of agencies and organizations that call themselves NGOs. These organizations include among others trade unions, savings clubs, consumer and farmer cooperatives, law associations, environmental advocacy groups, community development organizations to mention but a few. It is because of such diversity and different objectives such organizations engage in that makes it difficult to give a clear universal definition of what an NGO is. In fact, definitions vary from one country to another as guided by the legislation of a particular state.
In the case of Zambia, according to the Non-Governmental Organizations Act 2007, an NGO means; “a private voluntary grouping of individuals or associations, whether corporate or unincorporated, not established or operated for profit, partisan politics, or any commercial purposes, and who or which have organized themselves for the promotion of civic education, social welfare, development, charity or research through resources mobilized from sources within or outside Zambia” In fact, this definition seems to have been borrowed from Yaansah (1995).
According to Todaro & Smith (2009), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) defines an NGO as;” Any nonprofit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a local national or international level. Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of services and humanitarian functions, bring citizens’ concerns to governments, monitor policies and encourage political participation at the community level. They provide analysis and expertise, serve as early warning mechanisms and help monitor and implement international agreements. Some are organized around specific issues, such as human rights, the environment or health.
In further clarification of what constitutes or identifies an NGO, Kane (1990) identifies three criteria that could assist in their definition. Firstly, an NGO should be privately set up (as opposed to being set up by the state) and structured, and sufficiently autonomous in its activity and financing. This is what ensures its non-governmental character above all. Secondly, an NGO should be a non-profit-making institution to ensure its “voluntary” or “benevolent” character. Finally according to Kane, an NGO should support development so as to ensure its “public interest” character, even if governments have introduced legislation to limit the areas in which “public interest” can be exercised.
In summing up the definition of NGOs, it can be said that most NGOs are registered charities with a charitable status who enjoy many privileges e.g. tax exemptions. They also share a common vision i.e. that of reducing poverty and advancing human development and at the same time operate on a voluntary and nonprofit basis. The above definitions generally encompass the overall definition of an...
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