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NGO’s Urge Greater Freedom for Shaping Development Projects


Civil society organizations say an international framework called the Paris Declaration has increased their profile, helping them be more effective in their work promoting development. The declaration is an international document promoting the best possible use of aid. Kumi Naidoo is an official of World Alliance for Citizenship Participation, an NGO based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He told Voice of America English to Africa Service reporter Joana Mantey in Accra, Ghana, that governments should give more freedom to civil society groups in their efforts to promote development, including the drafting of legislation:

"It looks like governments are more comfortable with the service delivery that civil society organizations [undertake]. For example, if you are addressing the problem of domestic violence and you run shelter and counseling services for women who are victims of domestic violence, governments are okay with that. But if civil society organizations say we want you to develop a domestic violence Act, governments get more hesitant," he says.

Naidoo says that civil society organizations and governments can work together in coordinating legislation:

He says, "What we want to see is governments recognizing that civil society has room in terms of delivery of direct services. To have the space to share our perspectives, our experiences, both from our successes and failures in the policy-making process."

He said too few people benefit from aid and that less than 50% of aid committed by rich countries actually leaves those countries. For example, donor money may provide scholarships for students to study in a western country or pay for experts to travel to Africa.

And he says the aid that's disbursed in Africa must trickle down to state and local governments.

Naidoo adds that improved management strategies do help get aid to the poor and that transparency must be encouraged at governmental levels to ensure that aid reaches the people it's meant for.

He adds that civil society wants predictability, and if developing countries are to plan and execute their own development strategies, they need to know that donor money – and rules – will remain constant over the duration of a project.


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