• Victor Che Ngutih
Development in Africa
North-South NGO Partnerships and Implications for Sub-Saharan Africa’s Development
This research investigates the implications of North-South NGO partnerships for Sub-Saharan Africa’s Development. Its hypothesis is that these partnerships mutually benefit both the North and the South; the North offers technical skills and knowledge, while the South offers the constituency and indigenous knowledge and skills in SSA’s Development. In this wise, such partnerships are said to pursue symmetrical and sustainable Development. That is because partnerships with such NGOs are more people-focused, and pursue Human Development that undoubtedly sustains economic and political development in SSA. This position taken by this research is a contradiction of conventional North-South partnerships. They are inter-governmental, aimed at pursuing only economic growth and political development, and are characterized by asymmetry, dependency and hegemony in its development pursuits in SSA. The major point to contend here is the assumption that partnerships are initiated by the North (USA/Europe) and implemented by the South (SSA), with secondary and unfair intensions. This is seen later on.

The main concepts in this investigation include NGOs, North-South partnerships and Development. Implications on SSA treated as variables. Two schools of thought (pessimists and optimists) debate these concepts and variables throughout the research. The main debate focuses on Development trends in SSA. Debates take sociological and economic dimensions of development, and exhume constructions like Modern Societies that characterize the North and Traditional Societies that characterize the South. The North is further constructed as Rich, Developed and Capable, while the South is constructed as Poor, Underdeveloped and Incapable. A debate on Power Relations emanates from these constructions. Furthermore, a discussion on the role of state and market economies in SSA’s Development happens. Scholars also play a major part in investigations bringing their thinking on SSA’s Development through variables like Human Capabilities and Freedoms, and Wealth and Human Capital. A case study enables the investigation of the incidence and operationalization of a real-life case of North-South NGO partnership for SSA’s Development. This partnership is facilitated through the use of a special tool in determining fair partnerships, called the Due Diligence Process, that is discusses later.

Another characteristic of this research is the difference it makes between inter-governmental partnerships and NGO partnerships. This is because pessimists’ seem to assume that N-S partnerships are inter-governmental and thus their operations are asymmetrical, cause dependency and promote hegemony in the South. They also think that the financial power and level of development of the North adversely influences Development trends in SSA. This is a generalized criticism that means that all N-S partnerships are the same. On the other hand, optimists, whose thinking is guided by N-S partnerships operated by NGOs, hypothesize that these partnerships are symmetrical, sustainably proactive and are a mark of morale, collaborative responsibility, and not hegemony. They think that such partnership is reciprocal because it focuses on Human Development with comparative advantages. The North NGOs have a constituency advantage, which is, access to better skills, ‘donor public’, influence on ‘policy and advocacy’; while the ‘South NGOs’ have a constituency (space) advantage, ‘knowledge’ of local milieu and ‘presence’ (Brehm 2001, p.1). Optimists, in this sense, are very specific in their thinking. This research adopts this optimists’ assumption. For further guidance, a research question is posed: What are the implications of North-South NGO partnerships for Sub-Saharan Africa’s Development?

The concept of Development is given particular attention because it is the pivot of partnership in this research. One may wonder why Development is written with a big ‘D’. The big ‘D’ Development is ‘‘an immanent unintentional process; it is an international activity or project of intervention in the third world emerging as an aftermath of decolonization and the cold war’’ (Bebbington et al. 2008, p.5). This ‘D’evelopment also denotes a people-centric one, distinguishing it from a capitalist, state-centric small ‘d’ development (ibid). This research adopts the big ‘D’ Development. In this context, Development refers to Human Development rather than state-centric, which pursues only economic growth and political development.

The order of investigation in this research is guided by a methodological framework, which provides a thorough description of sources of, and how data is collected and used, how it is analyzed and how conclusions are reached. Data collected elucidates on the implications of N-S NGO partnerships for SSA’s Development. It further finds out whether Human Development is primordial to economic growth and political development or not, and which pattern is necessary for SSA’s Development. Data is analyzed using the deductive approach.

The Modernization and Organization Theories are used to provide further academic scholarship and more evidences to shape arguments. While the Modernization theory guides investigations on the Development advancements, the Organization Theory guides understanding of partnerships and NGOs. These two theories are middle-range theories because they offer the opportunity to draw inference from, and debate or discuss relevance of, as well as facilitate linkage of N-S NGO partnerships, to global perspectives of the problem.

Debates on major concepts and variables are highly polarized. Pessimists uphold generous criticisms that North-South partnerships have brought more misery to SAA than development. They support their assumptions with historical besets of SSA. This reliance is construed to hinder them from innovating change and from being proactive. Thus they are unable to suggest best ways of developing SSA, assuming a problem-prone stance. Optimists on their part adopt a more proactive and solution-prone approach. They accept the fact that SSA’s beset is heinous, but stress that these besets should rather be used as a lesson on which best possible approaches to partnership for SSA’s Development can be built. The focus on a more people-centric (NGO) partnership that encourages Human Development is thus their approach to SSA’s Development. This is the position of this research.

In the research, other types of partnerships are brought in to show the global trend of partnerships that have trumped de jure principles and assumed de facto tenets. South-South and Intercontinental or inter-regional partnerships that are mostly inter-governmental show how they pursue un-sustained and elite-centric economic development to the detriment of the masses through Regional, or continental, trade/economic blocs, etc. - de facto tenets. They also show how SSA is creating several blocs with intractable operations, thus ensuring progress of elites and negligence of masses, or trumping Human Development.

At the end of this research, it is clear that North-South NGO partnerships for SSA’s Development have positive implications. Promoting Human Development, means that these partnerships pursue symmetrical, sustainable, and non-hegemonic Development for SSA. This thinking leads to a suggestion that can change the way historical facts are used in thinking about SSA’s Development i.e. using a solution-prone and not problem-prone thinking. It suggests that history should not be used as a factor for knowledge stagnation, but as a factor for innovation, planning and solution. It also suggests a new research premise, which is Regional Partnerships of Development NGOs for Sustainable Development in Sub-Saharan Africa. A part of this should be dedicated to thinking on a new theory that can be called ‘Theory of Possibilities and Human Capabilities’. This can help in understanding how SSA’s besets can be used to enable Development Programs.
Publication date19 Dec 2013
Number of pages86
ID: 168643112