Friday, May 18, 2007

Grant-Proposal Guidelines and Their Effects on NGO Programming: An Intern’s Perspective in Cambodia

Tiana Gierke has written an "On the Ground" essay that explores the tensions between Cambodian NGOs and the international donor community. An intern at the Legal Aid of Cambodia (LAC) in Phnom Penh, Gierke suggests that in their chase after donor funding, NGOs risk losing their focus: "While the benefits of the indigenous-rights project cannot be ignored (providing access to justice in Cambodia’s most remote provinces), my experience in Cambodia showed me that there is an inverse relationship between the breadth of NGOs’ programs and the effectiveness of their service to a community. An organization that is constantly expanding to tackle new problems or to serve new communities beyond its expertise inherently forgoes opportunities to improve or expand existing projects. There is a balance to be struck for sure. However, it is in the public’s best interest for NGOs to specialize, and in some respects, the grant application process encourages just the opposite."

We encourage our readers to use our blog to discuss the essay with the author.


coexist said...

Dear All,

The scale and speed of the violence that engulfed Kenya following the controversial presidential election of December 27, 2007 shocked both Kenyans and the world at large. Two months of bloodshed left over 1,400 dead, 500,000 internally displaced, 100,000 houses and many businesses looted or destroyed in a country viewed as a bastion of economic and political stability in a volatile region. Women form 70% of those either displaced, injured or killed.

Among the underlying causes that fueled the violence are pre-existing violations of economic and social rights "as evidenced in the lack of access to water, food, health, decent housing together with the rate of youth unemployment and the gross inequality. The actual and perceived discrimination in the distribution of wealth, economic and political power amongst various communities and social segments together with the absence of adequate protection.

The policing of demonstrations and crowds was conducted with excessive use of force resulting in death and injuries of many, including children." Children were shot fleeing, bullets ricocheted through flimsy slum shacks, and lethal force was quickly used in opposition areas but restraint shown when facing pro-government gangs.

The Coexist Initiative, which is a national organization of community based organizations plans to implement the Komesha ( Stop) project which is aimed at ending impunity, fostering peace and reconciliation building and advocating for the resettlement of the internally displaced persons.

Kindly allow us to share with you detailed project documents for your perusal, advice and support.

Kind regards,

Wanjala Wafula

Programs Director

Coexist Initiative Kenya

Anonymous said...

I found your article regarding the Cambodian NGOs and the International Donors to be both interesting and a true reflection to what is going on in this Cambodia. I am the Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. your article is well-written and I am glad you mentioned.

As addition, I want to add that there are many types of donors and with many different agendas. There are a very strong present of the Church related donors and other developed country governments. Unfortunately, I don't think we have find solutions to the problems you raised yet. We are trying to set up a database for human rights in Cambodia and also found that NGOs are not willing to share and I think donors have key roles to play if they are willing. Donors, I think, are generally put too much emphasis on reports to satisfy their constituency and not enough on supporting specialize local NGOs.

The fact that donors will influence the decisions of NGOs is clear and probably difficult to change given the current circumstances and the funding needs. How the donors use the influence will determine the result. I think if donors with its influence putting more emphasis on sharing data and more willing to fund organizations that are more willing to share than cases intake, then I am sure NGOs will shift the approach or they will be weeded out leaving the more efficient and specialized NGOs as you mentioned.

David Stoker said...

I also enjoyed your post and had many of the same observations when I was there. My question is--did you observe NGO's that are breaking free from the donor driven model and having greater impact and local ownership of the problems/solutions? I was particularly impressed with the work and philosophy of Mith Samlanh (Friends International) when I was there. Are there other innovative models that have established themselves in the last couple years? I would be interested in nominating them for an Ashoka Fellowship.

Sambo Klauth said...

Hey, I enjoyed reasdind your posts. I put a link to these posts on my blog. You can read my blog about my personal experience working with Save the Children Norway in Cambodia, whose one of the partners was Legal Aid of Cambodia (LAC). Check it out and thanks: