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Keywords:

  • Non-governmental organizations;
  • Development policy;
  • International aid;
  • Global social policy

This paper reviews the changing relationships between Northern development NGOs (NNGOs) which are organizations with their roots in industrialized countries, and local southern NGOs (SNGOs) which exist in many aid-recipient countries. It draws on selected experiences from the Bangladesh context. There are three main changes which have taken place. Firstly, many NNGOs in the past decade or so have moved from implementation of development projects towards a partnership approach in which they fund and attempt to work with SNGOs. This has increasingly led to the idea of NGO "capacity-building" as a key objective, but a significant growth in SNGO capacity in a country such as Bangladesh increasingly renders such objectives less meaningful. Secondly, official bilateral or multilateral development donors are increasingly moving towards the direct funding of Southern NGOs rather than the previous model of funding through Northern NGOs in the partnership approach. This leaves many NNGOs in an uncertain position. Thirdly, the need to respond to international emergencies in the post-cold war order has led governments increasingly to fund NNGOs to undertake relief and emergency work on a contractual basis. This trend also potentially raises questions about the viability of their longer-term development work. All three sets of changes are contributing to an uncertain future for NNGOs, which arguably face an "identity crisis", and they will need to adapt carefully to the emergence of new global social policy agendas if they are to continue to be effective.