Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Patterns and Structures of NGO Self-Regulation in Africa

The January 2009 issue of the International Journal of Civil Society Law has three useful and thought provoking articles regarding nonprofit organizations beyond our own cloistured worlds and minds.  Here is a brief discussion of the first article.  The other two articles are "The Agency Problem in Non-Profit Corporations, by Giovanni Tamburrini, and a book review of "Charity Law and Social Policy" by Debra Morris.  Karla Simon has done a terrific job with the IJCSL.

1.  Patterns and Structures of NGO Self-Regulation in Africa, by Mary Kay Gugerty.  Here is the intro:

The growth in scale and scope of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) around the world has been accompanied by growing governance and regulatory challenges for governments, NGOs and donors. Challenges to nonprofit and nongovernmental organization (NGO)governance and accountability are particularly acute in sub-Saharan Africa (hereafter Africa), a region often characterized by illiberal democratic governance, weak mechanisms of regulatory oversight, and nascent civil societies. The combination of political liberalization and increased donor funding of nonprofits throughout the 1990s also sparked a dramatic increase in the number of NGOs operating in most countries in Africa. As an example in Kenya, the estimated number of NGOs registered with the government grew from less than 500 in 1990 (Ndegwa, 1990) to nearly 3200 in 2004 (NGO Council, 2004). As a result of these forces, governments in Africa found themselves increasingly dependent on NGOs for the provision of key public services, but with few regulatory or coordination mechanisms at their disposal to influence or oversee the activities of these organizations (Barr, Fafchamps and Owens, 2005). Donors also found it increasingly difficult to assess the capabilities and potential of the many newly emerging organizations. The need for standard-setting and oversight was underscored throughout this period by the periodic eruption of high profile nonprofit scandals that began to challenge the reputation and credibility of legitimate organizations (Kwesiga and Namisi, 2006; Gibbelman and Gelman 2004; Naidoo, 2004). These scandals emphasized to donors, governments and NGOs themselves the need for stronger standard-setting and credentialing mechanisms for the sector.


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