EDITORIAL: The small NGOs can't be allowed to be forced out

LUCY MAGGS

NGOs working in aid and development overseas have fallen out of favour with the Government, and their funding from Department for International Development is increasingly being diverted to organisations such as the EU or directly to governments in developing countries. Some NGOs have complained that if they do not deliver aid according to the Government's agenda their funding will be cut. Smaller NGOs in particular fear they could be squeezed out of existence (see News in Focus, p10).

Of course, organisations ideally should not pin their existence on one source of funding. No funding, whether it is from government or other sources, is guaranteed indefinitely. But finding additional money from individual donors, trusts and other sources takes time and resources - something that many small organisations cannot spare.

There is also an increasing demand from trusts to communicate outcomes in order to secure money, which creates yet another drain on the resources of small NGOs.

It should be remembered that some of the smaller organisations in the sector provide the most innovative projects and tend to be quick to react in times of disaster. In stark contrast, organisations such as the UN are not known for their swift action. Governments can be bureaucratic and may also bring their own political agenda into the equation. This creates concern among aid agencies that they may neglect the most marginalised groups.

Western aid and development agencies have been criticised unfairly for creating a culture of dependency. Many have great expertise and networks of local NGOs and most are keen that as much work should be carried out by local groups as possible. Aid and development agencies have saved the lives of millions of people worldwide. It would be a shame to see imaginative ideas being squeezed out and the aid and development sector becoming dominated by large organisations that follow the Government agenda.

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