• Jeanette Christensen
Donor strategies are changing according to the aid effectiveness commitments, introduced in the Paris Declaration. These commitments entail that donors and recipient governments should cooper-ate in a mutual partnership, where the recipient is to create a country development strategy, which the donors then align their development assistance to. To organise a mutual partnership has made the problem of imbalanced power relations in development cooperation, more acute than ever.

The partnership approach has meant changing policies in development policies, which also NGOs working with development have come to experience. This thesis examines what this change has meant for local NGOs working with development in Ghana. Ghana has in this context been a front-runner country, since several initiatives has been initiated as part of the aid effectiveness mantra. The NGOs have experienced new administrative channels for grants, since some donors have tried to harmonize their civil society funds, through INGOs managing pooled funds. To examine how the partnership policies have influenced NGOs working with development, a method of data triangula-tion has been applied, i.e. expert interviews, secondary research and theory. The thesis, first, con-siders the role Ghanaian NGOs have had in a historical context, which is secondly compared to the current situation, thus examining to what extent the role of NGOs have changed because of partner-ship initiatives. Finally it is considered what impact the asymmetrical power relations between part-ners working in development have had on the partnership based on mutual trust.

This thesis concludes that the new donor strategy has had an impact on the role of NGOs, albeit not as the strategy intended. The partnership of mutual relations is in the case of Ghana unrealistic as donors seem unable to give up their decision making role of the development strategy, because it has to ensure that funds are effectively implemented. Partnership is therefore implemented half-heartedly, as donors maintain control of the development strategy. This has the result of confusion in terms of the role NGOs have in the partnership. Donors encourage NGOs to conduct research and advocacy on effective development implementation, but the Government hardly includes NGOs in policy debates. The NGOs also have experience with service provision, since donors have supported NGO in the 1990s to implement projects of such as building schools and providing healthcare. This experience is however not taken advantage of by the Government, which now is encouraged by donors to take care of service provision. Donors also encourage NGOs to be independent government watchdogs, to monitor the Governments implementation of their development strategy. Donors encourage this through their pooled funds, which support established NGOs to maintain educated staff. This strategy has reinforced competition over funds, between NGOs. Competition is not a new tendency, but is strengthened, because funds now are prioritised to the established and most effective NGOs. The partnership approach can therefore be said to continue the neoliberal approach from the Washington Consensus, through the emphasis on independency and effectiveness. In the case of NGOs in Ghana they are however not in a position to be independent, which makes them dependent on donors funds,- making them an extended arm of donors.
Publication date1 Dec 2010
Number of pages69
ID: 37959413