Article from ROAPE Volume 24 Number 71
Aid, NGOs and Grassroots Development: N. Burkina Faso
The last two decades (and perhaps the next decade) could be described as the age of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). These organisations have become important players on the development scene. They are also major recipients of international aid. Between 1970 and 1990 aid channelled through NGOs rose from $2.7 billion to $7.2 billion. This trend has continued, with the OECD estimating in 1993 that northern NGO spending is between $9 billion and $10 billion annually. The significance of NGO involvement is particularly marked in Africa. For example, in 1991 forty-four World Bank assisted projects implemented by associated local NGOs took up 55 per cent of all loans and credits granted Africa that year (Marcussen, 1996:406). The increasing importance of what remains a poorly defined and heterogeneous sector is reflected not only in the amount of resources being channelled through these organisations but also in the increasing controversy surrounding their role in Africa's development. In this article, we review the experiences of two UK based NGOs - Oxfam-UK/Eire and ACORD - who have been promoting (for nearly two decades now) grassroots development in a country which has not recently experienced conflict - Burkina Faso. We draw lessons from their experiences and suggest that whilst some good work has been done, northern NGOs facilitating the emergence of grassroots organisations still face enormous challenges.