Sub Saharan Africa Ssa Politics Essay

23 Mar 2015

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Sub-Saharan Africa is the largest current aid recipient region of the world since 2001 having overtaken Asia as the largest aid-receiving region. Since more than five decades ago, over $1 trillion has been disbursed to the region to spur development and integration into the global economy (Moyo, 2009; Dessai and Porter, 2009; and Handley et al. 2009). Despite the huge amount of aid flow to sub-Saharan Africa, widespread poverty, chronic hunger and prevalence of life-threatening diseases are unprecedented in the region. Institutions and scholars are now referring to "food-malnutrition-hunger problems in the developing countries as the 'third crises'" (Chibba, 2011:76-77).There are also increasing dependency on aid, foreign technologies, institutions and value system, (Todaro and Smith, 2011; Collier, 2008; Kelsall, 2008). The World Bank (2008) on the monitoring of the progress of MDG reported that the first goal of halving absolute poverty has been disappointing in sub-Saharan Africa.

The failure of aid has generated debate among scholars and policy practitioner alike. This is because of the failure of fifty years of challenging aid interventions. Poor political leadership and weak state institution of recipient countries, and the agenda and conditionality imposed by donor countries and governments are attributed for the failure of aid - politics and economics of aid. However, the availability of abundant natural resources in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries have not affected their fortune - so-called 'resource curse' (Ushie, 2012:1; TI, 2012; Handley et al 2009). The aid-growth debate, multilateral and bilateral institutions and prominent scholars like Jeffrey Sachs and Arndt et al. in Chibba (2011) support the view that aid has a key role to play in achieving poverty reduction and development. There are increasing demand for focussed aid to developing countries, especially small states, low-income countries and post-conflict states (Chibba 2011, Paulo and Reisen, 2010). Critics of Sach's work on aid's role in development such as William Easterly (2006), Dambisa Moyo (2009) among others argued that poverty could be solved more by income redistribution than by growth and that aid is destructive to the economy of developing countries. However, the most important thing is finding workable and real-world solutions to address both poverty and development challenges.

The role of institutional quality of a country is more significant and not closely related to the volume of development assistance to the country. It is also more important than the geographical location and integration of the country into world trade (Booth, 2011). He said this could be an argument for lack of strong positive link between aid and development outcome in sub-Saharan Africa. Kofi Annan in UNDP 2006 noted that governance issues remain crucial elements of all strategies towards poverty eradication and human development - governance matters for development. Institutions, rules and political processes have major roles to play in whether children have access to quality education, whether people have access to basic things of life, and whether there is development or retrogression. Promoting human development is beyond overcoming economic, social and technological challenges: it includes political and institutional challenges, which causes poverty and insulation to development (UNDP, 2002; Abdellatif, 2003).

The governance crisis in sub-Saharan Africa is obvious in prevalent corruption, public services that are inefficient and inability of citizens to exercise their basic rights to choose their leaders - court without justice, public officials demanding bribe and hospital without doctors and drugs. Good governance is crucial in eradicating poverty and promotes development through effective institutions and rules. These can be achieved through accountability, transparency, empowerment, participation and rule of law. Failures of social policies often occur because the beneficiaries lack political power and adequate representation in the decisions that affects their lives. Developing countries will promote human development for all with governance systems that are fully accountable to the citizens. People can be better off when they can participate in the debates and decisions that affect their lives (UNDP 2002).

For aid to achieve its aims, the people that aid target must be empowered. Aung San Suu Kyi cited by UNDP (2002:52) argued, "Development as growth, advancement and the realisation of potential depends on available resources" - and no resources are more effective than people being empowered are. Governance for human developments must protect human rights; promote wider participation of the people in the institutions and rules that affects their lives. It is not just about efficient, equitable economic and social outcomes, but must embrace fair process. Succinctly, it must be democratic "in substance and in form - by the people and for the people" (p, 52).

Todaro and Smith (2011) noted that development needs improved functioning of the public, private and citizens sector. Each of these actors has their weaknesses - accountability. These weaknesses must be addressed to achieve balanced, shared and sustainable development. Civil society organisations have the capacity to reduce accountability gap in global governance. Scholars and policy-makers have come to accept the fact that active involvement of civil society organisations in governance will provide solution to accountability deficit in global governance (Scholte, 2011). Civil society should be a major player to achieve that goals by mobilising communities, delivering services and shaping policies (Ibrahim and Hulme, 2010; Bank and Hulme 2012; and Collins 2012). To critics, civil society might aggravate the problem because they themselves are poorly accountable to their constituency - even if they have one (Scholte 2011; Steffeks et al, 2008, Kaldor 2002).

The recent studies and international commitments reiterate the necessity of increasing research on poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development. Official monitoring of the impact of Paris Declaration - where developed and developing countries make commitment to make aid effective by 2011 - showed that only one of the thirteen targets has been met(OECD, 2011). Making aid effective and achieve its goal remains a crucial goal of development. Democratic governance is the answer - good governance or 'good enough governance' is democratic governance from human development perspective (UNDP 2002; Grindle, 2007).


This research intends to study how to overcome constraints to poverty reduction and achieving sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa.

The research intends to answer these questions:

What are the obstacles to poverty reduction and development in sub-Saharan Africa?

What are the role of NGOs and civil society in promoting democracy in global and national governance institutions?

What are the roles of civil society and NGOs in shaping governance policies and as alternative provider of social services?


There is an extensive literature on the role of state and non-state actors in governance of aid and capacities of different actors in governance institution towards poverty eradication and achieving human development in developing countries. This research will provide answers to the above questions by reviewing literature as a secondary data source. This method is selected considering the timescale of the study. It is possible to carry out this type of research by evaluation of secondary data source in assessing the core issues and approaches in providing solution to the research questions. This allows the critical appraisal of different literature source. Ethically, there is no research participant, hence no implication on any. This research is limited to the review of relevant literature on role of CSOs in poverty reduction, development and aid in developing countries and no field research

This research work is structured in five chapters. The first chapter contains introduction of the issues in aid governance, the rationality for this research and research objectives methodology. Second chapter captures the rationality for aid in the development of sub-Saharan Africa. Its shed light on the challenges facing sub- Saharan Africa, and why aid has not been effective in reducing extreme poverty and promote human development. The concluding part of the chapter discusses global governance challenges and previous roles of NGOs and civil society in global governance and development. The third chapter discuss the centrality of democracy in governance and achieving sustainable human development. The focus of chapter four is the roles of NGOs and civil society in promoting democracy and addressing economic and development policy challenges. The fifth chapter is the conclusion of this research




Attainment of development by any nation depends on combination of factors. These include the country's resources endowment and population; its government's policies and objectives; the availability of external capital and technology - international flow of financial resources; and the international trade environment (Todaro and Smith, 2011). External capital comes in three main forms. The first of these involves private foreign direct and portfolio investment by large transnational corporations and purchase of bonds, stocks and notes in the developing countries' credit and equity markets by private institutions and individuals. The second involves remittances of earnings by international migrants; and the third involves public and private development assistance - foreign aid. In the case of sub-Saharan Africa, there are factors that make it unattractive for private foreign direct and portfolio investment. Political instability and incessant military take-over; economic factors and poor business environment; geographical factors - majority of the countries in the region are landlocked nations; and insecurity of life and property and poor infrastructure makes it "unattractive as a place for foreign investment" (Sachs, 2005:63). In addition, remittances of earnings by international migrants are small. According to United Nation report cited by Todaro and Smith (2011), only Nigeria and Egypt have remittance of 4.7 and 5.8 percent of their GDP.

The above situation makes the role of aid in the development of sub-Saharan Africa significant. Aid aims to fill the gap limiting development by supplementing savings to boost investment for improving productive capacity and needed infrastructures that facilitate development (Burnell, 2008; TI, 2011 and Todaro and Smith, 2011:702). The argument is that developing countries lacks adequate domestic savings required for investment opportunities. Coupled with this, African countries have low foreign-exchange earnings to finance imports. Lack of physical and human capital to attract private investment does not also help matter. Despite the increasing flow of aid, government policies and objectives are militating against its effectiveness.

Defining foreign aid is conceptually problematic. To Dambisa Moyo (2009), aid is simply the sum total of both concessional loan and grants. Concessional loans are funds to be repaid, but with a more favourable repayment conditions to the borrower than what can be obtained through standard financial markets. It is sometimes at the expense of the lending countries. Grants are money given for nothing in return. She mentioned three types of aid. The first is humanitarian aid. That is, aid in response to catastrophe and calamities. The second is charity-based aid. These are aid disbursed by charitable organisations (NGOs and other voluntary sectors) to "institutions or people on ground" (p7). The third form of aid is systemic aid. This is aid payments made directly to governments which could be either through government-to- government transfer( bilateral aid) or transfer through institution such as World Bank(multilateral aid).

The widely used concept of aid is the combination of all official grants and concessional loans. It may be in kind or currency. Peter Burnell(2008), viewed aid as including "transfer of finance, commodities and other goods, technical cooperation and debt relief" and grants is the common form of bilateral aid to least developed countries because of their inability in the past to service concessional loans acquired,(p.503). The intention is transfer of resources from developed countries to developing countries to reduce poverty and facilitate development - the common target of aid now (Todaro and Smith, 2011; TI 2011). The focus of aid on the human development, poverty reduction and good governance is a recent development in aid governance. The reason for the new focus of aid is the increasing high profile of other non-state actors in governance, particularly, civil society organisations (TI, 2011, UNDP 2007). This weakened the monopoly of the state in promoting development and the role of these non-state actors are increasing as "the power of the state declines and global economic activities intensifies" (Dessai and Porter, 2008: 499). They defined the state as "the network of government, quasi-government and non-governmental institutions (traditional institutions) that coordinates, regulates and monitors economic and social activities" (p. 499).

The US Marshall Plan (1948-51) of post-war reconstructions in Western Europe success set spur the use of aid vehicle in promoting development, but the failure of aid to achieve same in least developed nations is a case for concerns. The contemporary experiences generated heated debate on the relevance of aid to national development and spurred the queries of rationalities behind aid (Moyo, 2009; Burnell, 2008 and 1997; Collier, 2008 and Todaro and Smith, 2011). In the first decade of twenty-first century, the common reason given by donor nations for giving aid are moral and humanitarian interest in helping the less privileged. Some development assistance has been in the form of emergency food relief and medical program - currently in Afghanistan, Somalia, Haiti, Southern Sudan and Syria. As true as that may be, there are historical evidences that support the claim that no donor nation give aid without expecting something in return. Some of the reasons are political and economic gain, counterterrorism - especially after September 11, antinarcotics - in Mexico and Latin America, and prevention of HIV and AIDS.

Common motivation by donor countries is political benefits. Burnell (2008) argued that even US aid for post-war reconstruction in Western Europe was motivated by political and concerns for national security and superpower competition with USSR (Todaro and Smith, 2011). The hidden rationale of the US Marshall Plan was mainly to contain the spread of communism. The success achieved in bringing Western Europe back on sound economic footing was clear, but it also gave US the advantage of influencing foreign policy with that part of Europe becoming its allies. It enhanced the emergence of "US-led multilateralism" (Moyo 2009:12). The focus shifted in 1950s from Europe to developing nations while the agenda of "containment embodied in the US aid programme dictated a shift in emphasis toward political, economic, and military support for "friendly" less developed nations especially those considered geographically strategic" (Todaro and Smith, 2011:701).

The Cold War marked the political contest between USSR and US. African countries were used as battleground to make the newly independent nations either communist or capitalist. The protracted disaster in Syria reflects the hegemony between Russia, China and US. In the Latin America, Alliance for Progress in 1960s was established to promote economic development of the region, but underlying that is the motivation to counter rise of Fidel Castro in Cuba and the fear of communism in other Latin America nations. The doomed fate of the Alliance for Progress showed its irrelevance to US scheme of affairs.

Dated back to 1940s, Britain government gives aid for infrastructural projects to poorer nations, majorly to commonwealth member countries and British Colonial Development and Welfare Act was established to fund social services (Moyo, 2009). In sum, Western donors give aid as a political instrument to prop up friendly political regimes in developing nations based on their own national security interest. Critics of aid argued that the fight against AIDS is to prevent it from spreading to the West and likely state collapse that might be a haven for terrorist (Moyo, 2009; Maathai, 2009).

There is strong economic rationale for foreign aid from developed countries. Chief among them are Japan and Germany. Japan gave aid to less developed Asian neighbours to promote its private investments and expanding trade. China's aid in Africa currently have same motive. The aim of Marshall Plan was for Europe to regain their social, political and economic stability and to regain their level of development. US injected about $100bilion (current value of the aid package) as rescue package under George C. Marshal, the then US Secretary of State in 1947, for post- Second World War reconstruction in Europe. The birth of Breton Wood institutions (IMF, World Bank and WTO) in 1940s with the agenda of restructuring international finance, establishing a multilateral trading system and formation of framework for economic cooperation to avoid the experience of the Great Depression of 1930s reinforce aid system. They were to enhance capital investment for reconstruction and manage global financial system purposely to share investment risk between countries where all member nation bankroll the risk involved (Moyo, 2009; Todaro and Smith, 2011 and Dessai and Porter, 2008).

Economic benefits also accrues to the donor countries especially from "tied aid" - loans or grants that requires the recipient countries to use the fund to purchase goods and services from the donor countries. According to Todaro and Smith (2011:705), "a large fraction of US aid has been spent on American Consultants and other US businesses".

The recipient countries accept aid based on their belief on the economic tenets of developed nations as a requirement for the achievement of their own development and in some cases and lack of domestic resources. To some corrupt leaders aid is attractive because they hardly account for it and sometimes used to suppress opposition and retain power - military assistance. Moral obligation, some argued, compel the donor countries to assist the less developed nation on humanitarian ground. They believe that the rich countries, especially former colonial masters such as Britain, US, France, Italy, Spain Portugal to mention a few, owe the poor countries reparation for their past exploitations.

Aid and aid governance has generated hot debate and "political disagreement" among scholars, policy-makers and the public (Collier, 2008:99). The first argument is on aid effectiveness in promoting development. Proponents of aid believe that it has engendered economic growth and transformed many developing countries. The Nobel Laureate, Maathai (2009), in her book The Challenge for Africa observed that Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) alone has provided over $650 billion in development assistance to sub-Saharan Africa. She noted the flows have not reversed the increasing death of poor African because of malaria, HIV/AIDS and other deadly diseases. However, the impact of foreign media and development experts concern on Africa issues especially on preventable diseases has been helpful, but that is not the concerns of sub-Saharan Africa public officials.

Collier (2008) noted that aid tends to speed up growth. In Africa, he pointed out that aid has added about 1 percent to the countries annual economic growth rate of the "bottom billion". Though not encouraging, but according to him, the growth rate in those countries has been less than 1 percent or even zero. The aid addition to the growth rate is the difference between economic stagnation and "severe cumulative decline and without aid, cumulatively the countries of the bottom billion over would have become poorer than they are today: aid has been a holding operation preventing things from falling apart" (Collier, 2008:100). The renewed commitment of the world leaders and international organisation involved in the governance of aid reinforced the position that aid is relevant to the development of sub-Saharan Africa. They agreed that properly administered aid would meet its development objectives (Paris Declaration, 2005). Critics of aid argue that aid does not promote growth and development, but contrarily may even be destructive to development of developing nations. Moyo (2009) vigorously criticised aid in Africa. She argued: "the notion that aid can alleviate systemic poverty and has done so is a myth. Millions in Africa are poorer today because of aid; misery and poverty have not ended but have increased. Aid has been and continue to be, an unmitigated political, economic, and humanitarian disaster for the most part of the developing world" (p.xix).

In the same vein, Peter Baueras cited by Moyo (2009), noted that aid distort development as the fund ended in the hand of a selected few. He said aid is a form of taxing the poor in the developed countries to enrich the new elites in their former colonies. Baueras concluded that aid-based theories and policies are inconsistent with sound economic management and with reality of the situation in developing nations.

The argument that aid had had little or no impact on the development of sub-Saharan Africa is strong. However, one can be curious to ask what befell the income from the countries earnings from natural resources and other revenues. In reality, those resources also have not been of any impact on the development of the region (Ushie, 2012; Handley et al. 2009; and Chibba 2011, TI 2012). Moyo (2009) agreed on this and admitted that the problem of Africa is beyond aid because domestic earnings also seem to be a curse. Collier argued that the growth rate in countries with natural resources (oil windfall) such as Nigeria - that earned over $280 billion from crude oil - were not different from those other countries without such resources and with even negative effect of oil windfall on their economies. He lamented that more aid without changes in approach to governance is doomed to fail: "but as a general instruments (aid) for developing the bottom billion they would be more reassuring had oil and other natural resources revenues been more successful" in achieving development(2008:102). Maathai supported this claim: Unfortunately, too many African governments have used their budgets, and their natural resources, not to invest in their people, but in precisely the opposite manner"(Maathai, 2009:75).

Another dimension of aid debate is aid-conditionality. Formal president of South Africa, Dr Nelson Mandela, at the United Nation Summit in 1995 said "it is to perpetuate difficulties of the South for the North to relate to us as hapless victims to dictate to regarding loans and the employment of aid" (cited by Todaro and Smith,2011:684). Argument against conditionality is popular among civil society, governments and the international institutions involving in the governance of aid. Conditionality-based lending started in 1980s with recommendation for economic policy and institutional reform with Structural Adjustment Programme taken central stage. It incurred resentment because people viewed it as "coercive and offensive to sovereignty" (Burnell, 2008:505).

Based on Dollar and Burnsides (1998) recommendation, selectivity was introduced to aid - favouring countries that show commitment to sound development policy and good governance. Critics view this as depriving assistance to countries that desperately need the help. Nevertheless, Collier noted that aid agencies have little incentives to enforce conditionality because people get promotion by disbursing fund, not by withholding it. He advocated for a shift in the focus of governments to the welfare of their citizens. He argued that the internal process by which citizens force government to be accountable to them is weak in developing nations and must be strengthened. To achieve this, external pressure is needed and legitimate: "Why should we give aid to governments that are not willing to let their citizens see how they spend it" (2008:110). The focus of all stakeholders in aid governance now must be how to make it effective in meeting its development goals, because "aid is at the heart of governance today and it is unlikely to disappear", (Moyo, 2009:66).

Aid effectiveness can be viewed as efforts gear toward ensuring the maximum impact of development aid for getting the most possible lives improved. Elliot Stern et al (2008:20) based on the principle of Paris Declaration (PD) defined aid effectiveness as "arrangement for the planning, management and deployment of aid that is efficient, reduces transaction costs and targeted towards development outcomes including poverty reduction". The theme of PD is how to improve the way aid is delivered and it was to supplement PRSP. It demands from donors to harmonise their assistance with the policies and systems of recipient countries to support country-owned development (Booth 2011). Development effectiveness of aid is conceived as the effectiveness of aid in promoting development. Human development requires more than achieving economic growth in GDP and raising income. The focus of development must shift from national income accounting to people-centred policies.

Development is defined as "the process of improving the quality of all human lives and capabilities by raising people's levels of living, self-esteem, and freedom" (Todaro and Smith, 2011:5). Sakiko Fukuda-Parr (2003) viewed development as the elimination of obstacles to what a person can do in life. Obstacles such as illiteracy, ill health, lack of access to resources or lack of civil and political freedoms. Amartya Sen (2001) noted that development should be viewed as a process of expanding the real freedom that people enjoyed. UNDP (2001) supported this by saying that the fundamental capabilities for human development are to live healthy and long lives, to be educated, to have access to resources for good standard of living and ability to participate in the life of the community.


Challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa are multi-dimensional, most importantly, the prevalence of extreme poverty and chronic diseases across the region. They form one-sixth of the world population, described by Paul Collier (2008) as the "bottom billion". Sachs (2005:18) described them as "too ill, hungry, or destitute" to step the ladder of development. The webs of poverty make it extremely difficult to escape it on their own. Extreme poverty, according to him, means that households are unable to meet their basic physiological or biological needs for survival. Education is unaffordable for the children and there is no proper shelter for the household. Sachs (2005) reported that 93 percent of the world poor population lives in three regions: East Asia, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. While it has reduced substantially in Asia, the percentage of extremely poor people has risen in sub-Saharan Africa (Handley et al. 2009; Moyo 2009; and Collier 2008).

National Bureau of Economic Research (NGO) as quoted by Maathai (2009) reported that the economic growth of the world grew at 2 percent between 1960 and 2001, but the reverse was the case in Africa. She noted, "GDP growth was negative from 1974 to mid-1990s and by 2003, sub-Saharan Africa GDP lowered by 11 percent than thirty previous years" (p.48). In early 1960s, only 10 percent of the world poor were African, but in year 2000, African population formed 50 percent of the world poor. The growth rate of sub-Saharan Africa countries did not exceed 0.5 since 1960 when the population was 277million. With a population of over 900million, the growth rate remains unchanged. Such economic performance cannot guarantee meeting the basic needs of the people.

Moyo (2009) also noted that sub-Saharan Africa remain the poorest region in the world with per capital income of $1 a day, lower than what it was in 1970s. The number of people from that region living in abject poverty doubled between 1981 and 2002. UNDP(2007) cited by Moyo(2009) predicted that by 2015, one-third of third of the world poor would be African contrary to one fifth in 1990. Life expectancy stands at 50year, the lowest in the world. "And still, across important indicator - life expectancy, literacy rate, maternal- infant mortality and income inequality - the trend in Africa is not just downwards: Africa is (negatively) decoupling from the progress being made across the rest of the world"(Moyo 2009:6). Collins (2012) described poverty as one of the greatest challenges to human security and basic human needs. In Nigerian newspaper, the Punch of 27th February 2013, former president of US, Bill Clinton said the cause of Boko Haram (Western Education is bad) insurgency in the Nigeria and other sub-Saharan countries are rooted in prevalence of extreme poverty. Sub-Saharan Africa is now a theatre of terrorism.

Some of the factors adduced for these challenges in sub-Saharan Africa are classified as geographical, historical, cultural, tribal and institutional. Collier (2008) argued that geographical environment and topography of a country determines its wealth and success. Some environments are easier to manipulate than others are. This gives some society opportunity to tend plants and animal better than others do. The climatic condition, location, topography, species of plants and animals influences people's ability to provide food for consumption and export. These have positive impact on the economic and development (Moyo 2009). Jeffrey Sachs (2005) gave example of how the climate and location of Britain helped in its economic and social development. He said, "Geographical location of Britain enabled it to benefit from trade, productive agriculture and energy resources in vast stock of coal" (p.35). He revealed that Britain has favourable climatic condition for agriculture and extensive navigable river ways for internal and external trade. The reverse is the case in sub-Saharan Africa.

Historical factors particularly, colonialism was given as one of the reasons for poverty and underdevelopment in Africa. Sachs (2005) opined that Europe superior powers coax weaker societies to take action favourable to their advantage. They "commandeered natural resources including natural wealth of Africa", and private army were raised to ensure compliance (p.41). Maathai (2009) also noted that the legacy of colonial master - the territories they established - was meant to serve their interest. They had no genuine interest in the development of the local population, but in raw materials to their various countries. She noted that outcasts of the traditional society that cooperated with the colonial authority were elevated to positions that they would never have held in traditional societal institutions. This cultivated a system that de-emphasised merit and competence that still endures today. It perpetuates underdevelopment because merit and competence is not a condition in filling official positions against sound governance and justice.

Even after independence, the new leader failed to put their people's welfare at the centre of affair. Simply, because many of them lack principle and leadership qualities, they were just fortunate to be at the right place at the right time. They made no effort to change the inherited colonial systems of governance (Bowers-Krishnan, 2013). The established territories, political structures and civil services were incompatible with the ways of lives of the people. Moyo stated, "Forcing traditionally rival and warring ethnic groups to live together under the same flag would never make nation-building easy"(2009:31)

The system engendered the culture of corruption. Transparency International (TI) (2011) said aid has not always been effective at achieving results. This is because of corruption and mismanagement resulting from "low levels of transparency, accountability and integrity by donor and partner countries" (p.1). Moyo (2009) noted that high degree of corruption discourage investment because no foreign investor will risk their money in business venture that corrupt officials can sap its proceed. Corrupt officials chose projects that are likely to give opportunity for extorting bribes and diverting funds against public welfare. Project whose value is difficult to monitor becomes more attractive to them because opportunities for misappropriation of fund.

Collins (2012:338) posit that "corruption is regressive (affecting the poor most), promoting transparency". Fighting corruption is more crucial to development in sub-Saharan Africa. Anti-corruption is only beginning to receive attention in debates over poverty and governance (Collins, 2012:3, 6; Marquette, 2012; Vian et al., 2012; Gebel, 2012). Transparency International Report(TI) (2012) stated "corruption perpetuates poverty and skews decisions and diverts scarce funds, denying poor people access to basic social services and resources to improve their livelihood"(p.1). The report stated that no region in the world is "more severely affected than sub-Saharan Africa" (p.1). The only route out of it is the involvement of the poor people in decision-making process and service delivery. This will reduce the effect of weak governance. The challenge is how to make the poor to be aware of their rights and give them access to information to influence decisions and monitor budgets and resources (TI, 2012).

Tribal groupings and ethno-linguistic make-up is another reason given for Africa underdevelopment. Sub-Saharan Africa has over 1000 tribes with distinct languages and customs. Nigeria with around 170million people has over 400 tribes while Botswana with over 1 million populations has eight large tribal groupings. Collier (2008) noted that the more a country is ethnically divided, the more likely a breakout of civil war. Africa has witnessed civil war more than any region of world in history. Collier stated that typical civil war cost four times annual GDP and reform will be more difficult to achieve in ethnically diverse small country. This may account for why African countries have witnessed poor policies longer than other regions of the world. Political environment in most sub-Saharan Africa are characterised by tribal sentiment and not development consciousness. Moyo (2009:33) noted "once locked into ethnic argument, there is no policy prescription: it is a dead end"

Lack of strong, transparent and credible public institutions in most African countries is another challenge to development. Civil service, police, judiciary and other public institutions are weak and ineffective in formulating and implementing development friendly programmes. Moyo (2009) citing David Landes noted that the ideal growth and development model is one that is hinged on sound political institution. Sachs (2005:31) stated that poor countries continue to suffer because of "chronic problem of political instability". He noted that strengthened institutions of political liberty, platform for open debate and free speech and protection of private property rights, which nurtured individual initiative, helped achieved Britain development. In Africa, leaders respond to fear of strong civil society and growing demand for open political system, by using ethnicity to set communities against each other.


The increasing changes in climatic condition, the threat of terrorism, prevalence of life threatening diseases, financial market meltdown, human rights, failed state, nuclear weapon proliferation and ravaging extreme poverty constitute policy challenges of contemporary society. They have pronounced global dimensions, hence, the emergence of governance instruments. IMF, World Bank, UN, WTO and EU are the common examples of global governance agencies (Scholte, 2011). Mary Kaldor (2003) viewed these challenges as the reason for growing interconnectedness of states and the emergence of a system of global governance. In addition, the explosion of the movements, groups, networks and organisations that engage in global or transnational public debate, have challenged the nation-state and its ability to manage emerging problems and needs.

To Rosenau (1992), government and governance have similarities and differences. They are similar in that they are purposive behaviour, goal-based activities and rule-based systems. Government is different from governance; it involves activity backed by formal authority and police power that enforce implementation of constituted policies and programmes. Governance on the other hand, are activities backed by shared goals with or without 'legal or formally prescribed responsibilities' (p, 4) and not depend on police enforcement. Governance includes government institutions and informal, non-governmental mechanisms for persons and institutions involved to satisfy their needs and fulfil their wants. UNDP (2006) see governance as employing economic, political and administrative authority to direct state affairs at all levels. It comprise methods, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences. Global governance is not global government, but multilevel collections of governance related activities, rules, and mechanisms that may be formal or informal, private and public taking place in the world today - piece of global governance (Karns and Mingst, 2010).

The ability or effectiveness of global governance institution to deliver public good and make a difference in the live of the world citizens is a growing concern. To be effective and legitimate, governance institutions must be accountable to the people. Accountability is the process whereby an actor answers for its conduct to those whom it affects (Scholte, 2011:8). Institutions or regulatory processes that have deficit of sufficient accountability will fail to achieve their purposes. Besides, poorly accountable regimes generally obtain limited support from the affected population. Put together, weak accountability brings weak governance, and consequently, failure to meet the needs of the society. This will also undermine realisation of material wellbeing, democracy and development of the citizens (Scholte, 2011; Steffek et al, 2008). Global governance institutions have enormous accountability deficit. This compromises their effectiveness and legitimacy that aggravates the problems facing the contemporary society (Kaldor, 2003; Ibrahim and Hulme, 2010; and Scholte, 2011).

Civil society organisations have the capacity to reduce accountability gap in global governance. Scholars and policy-makers have welcomed the vibrant, value-driven, democratic activities of civil society organisations as prospective solution to accountability deficit in global governance. However, critics doubt their ability to provide answers to the problem because of their elitist tendencies and poor accountability within their organisations. They argued civil society might aggravate the problem (Scholte 2011; Steffek et al, 2008, Kaldor 2002).

Accountability relationship between global governance and civil society organisation is complex because accountability in global governance is not straight ward: who is accountable and for what? To whom is he accountable? Civil society has its own problem. They have the problem of the kind of citizens' action group will make global governance more accountable. What are the strategies and tactics to be adopted? Global governance arrangements are highly diverse and civil society contribution may vary based on issues being addressed. This calls for multiple approaches by civil society organisations to achieve democratically accountable global governance (Scholte, 2011). They can complement or supplants states in order to exact accountability from global governance institutions. In fact, civil society organisations have alerted the policymakers, the mass media and the public of the deficit of democracy in contemporary global governance. They can provoke global authorities to be answerable to various constituency especially the disadvantaged and the marginalised, including countries from the global south, poor people and groups experiencing silence and exclusion (Scholte, 2011). Development and poverty eradication in developing countries demands active involvement of civil society and the people themselves. It requires cooperation between state and non- state actors and broader active participation of ordinary citizens - governance (Karns and Mingst, 2010; Collins 2012; Ackerman 2003; and Bank and Hulme 2012).

Failure of structural adjustment programmes and neoliberal tenets reinforced the demand for citizens' involvement, need for transparency and strong institutions as prerequisite for good governance (Ibrahim and Hulme, 2010; Ahmad, 2008; and Gemmill and Bamidele-Izu, 2002). Recent studies revealed that those failed policies undermine community organisation and social capital in developing world (Ackerman, 2003).

The effort in developing countries to eradicate extreme poverty and achieve development for all their citizens has failed. Poor governance, corruption, weak democratic institutions bereft of transparency and accountable has alienated the rulers from the ruled. Within this context, alternative forms of development are desirable. There is now a global consensus that extreme poverty must be tackled that culminated in MDGs. It was agreed also, that, civil society should be a major player to achieve the goals by mobilising communities, delivering services and shaping policies (Ibrahim and Hulme, 2010; Bank and Hulme 2012; and Collins 2012). Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can bridge the gulf between citizens' needs and existing services. Alternative channels of service provision, meet citizens' needs and inclusiveness and/or holding governments to account are needed where they are not in existence. NGOs have neatly fitted into this gap (Bank and Hulme, 2012).

Citizens' participation in governance is fundamental to solving today's development challenges (UNDP 2009). UNDP emphasised that the engagement of indigenous people and their organisations is crucial to reducing poverty, promoting democratic governance, preventing and resolving conflicts, and achieving sustainable development (UNDP2009, 2006, 2002; World Bank, 2003, 2004; and Ahmad 2008). As noted in UNDP (2009), it was resolved that UNDP and civil society will work together to pursue vision of people-centred human development by adopting national, regional and global initiatives.

The growing interest in fighting poverty and achieving human development results majorly from the efforts of aid and donor agencies and by the effort of numerous civil society organisations. The national and international NGOs and other civil society organisations have widening their development agenda for policy change, services provision, for speaking the voice of the poor and advocating for their rights, besides their role of humanitarian relief (Ibrahim and Hulme, 2010). Currently there are networks of non-state actors increasingly active in development, which have transformed the relationship between the state and the society.


The concept of civil society is highly contested. The term originated in seventeenth and eighteenth century. Aristotle wrote about politike koinona (Greek) or Societas Civilis (in Latin) or political community or society (English). It described the rule-governed society where the ruler holds crucial the public good at the expense of his/her private interest (Kaldor, 2002). De Tocqueville cited by her opined that as wealth of nation increases, and active civil society is necessary to check the power of the state. He argued - after studying America democracy and the extent of its civil life - that those associations were a condition for freedom and equality. The West democracy and development success was explained by the present of active civil society because "when the state trembled, a sturdy structure of civil society was at once revealed" (Gramsci as quoted by Kaldor 2002:6). This means, instead of attempting to change the state, it would be rewarding to change the relation between the state and society. To create self-organised institutions that is independent of the state and that could challenge the action of the state.

Kaldor (2002) put civil society as a rule governed society based on the consent of the individuals and the ways in which their consent are negotiated and reproduced. These include those organisations, groups and movements that are engaged in the process of negotiation and debate on the character of the rules. She described this as process of expressing voice. Anheier cited by Ibrahim and Hulme (2010:3) defined civil society as "sphere of institutions, organisations and individuals located between the family, the state and the market in which people associate voluntarily to advance common interests". Civil society is commonly associated with a group of people with belief in a shared goal and forms an association to pursue the goal. It is a form of "collective action in search of the good society" (Edward, 2009). According to Scholte (2011:8), "civil society is a political arena where association of citizens seek, from outside political parties, to shape societal rules". This definition combined the notions of 'the public sphere' and 'deliberative democracy' (Habermas and Bohman as cited by Scholte 2011). This is the understanding of civil society in this paper.

In development discourse, civil society are expected to play active role in alleviating poverty to "achieve a 'better; and more affluent and equal society" (Ibrahim and Hulme, 2010:3). Development can be inclusive and reduce poverty when all groups of people come together to create opportunity, share the benefit of development and participate in decision-making - a recent UNDP human development approach (Odugbemi and Jacobson, 2008; Sen, 2001). Mary Kaldor stated that the achievement of development goals amount to "emancipation of the poor" (2002:11).

There are multiple languages used in describing the actors of civil society in global governance: NGOs and NPOs (non-profit organisation); advocacy networks; civil society organisations; public policy or epistemic networks; faith-based organisations; religious community; and cooperatives. Also informal groups; academic; media; recreational and cultural organisations are included in CSOs. Civil society in poverty reduction and development issues in general mainly focuses on NGOs and uses it interchangeably with 'civil society' (Ibrahim and Hulme, 2010; Kaldor2002). Ibrahim and Hulme noted when analysing the relationship between civil society, poverty reduction and development the role of these informal organisations should be included (2010).

By definition, Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) "are private voluntary organisations whose members are individuals or associations that comes together to achieve a common purpose. Some are formed to advocate a particular cause such as human rights, peace, or environmental protection, while others are established to provide services such as disaster relief and humanitarian aid in war-torn societies or developmental assistance" (Karns and Mingst 2004 p.10). Kaldor (2003:88) stated that NGOs and civil society are seen as an indispensable actor in the 'New Policy Agenda" (UNDP, 2006, 2009; Unwin, 2004). In this agenda of development and participatory democracy, NGOs are important in the formulation and implementation of policies by providing training for the people on democracy, their rights and obligations in the system - to promote effective participation of an informed citizen. This will promote good governance in the national and international institutions and compensates for the inadequacies of the states and global institutions in resolving global problems (Scholte 2002).

There are three perspectives in viewing civil society's role in development (Ibrahim and Hulme, 2010). The first is 'triadic perspectives', which views civil society as "the 'third sector' vis-à-vis the state and market with overlapping borders between them" (p, 3). Civil society serves the purpose of correcting the state and market failure, where NGOs balance the power of state and partner with the state to achieve change. Here the focus of NGOs is to provide safety net to those people that the market forces cannot reach (Pearce and Fowler cited by Ibrahim and Hulme, 2010). The second is the 'political or rights' perspective of civil society. The emphasis here is on the importance of citizenships, human rights and democracy to development and poverty reduction. This perspective's main concern includes providing a democratic check on the state for a reforms; campaign against human rights abuses and corruption. This is to make the state more accountable and responsive to the needs of the citizens (Ibrahim and Hulme, 2010).

The third is the 'arena perspective', where civil society focuses on the "collective or associational nature of civil society". The emphasis is on the central value of civil society as a carrier of values (Ibrahim and Hulme, 2010:4). This gives civil society opportunity to set its own agenda and views it as "associational expression of people's power" (Edward 2009:2). In this case, NGOs may provide technical assistance to community groups or may intentionally create community groups such as microfinance and women's group. In this way, the poor have the incentive to organise themselves and express their needs (Ibrahim and Hulme 2010).

All these perspectives on civil society can be viewed as a dynamic system embracing processes of behaviours and relationships by which citizens pursue and defend interests, rights and needs deemed good to them. As change agent, they create social, economic and political drive towards reform "in or between each of these areas" (Fowler quoted by Ibrahim and Hulme 2010:5). This is central to development discourse. Civil society provides forum for debate. They challenge the existing ideas of progress and development through active participation in non-formal and non-institutional political realm. They promote new forms of participation where the people can have a say in deciding what form progress and development should take (Ibrahim and Hulme 2010). This type of involvement of people towards progress and development is the focus of this research.


It is widely held that last three decades have witnessed distinctive contributions and improvement in the role of civil society and NGOs in development sector and humanitarian crisis (Javawickkrama and McCullagh, 2009). Their efforts as innovative and grass-root organisations, their drive and capacity towards promoting participatory and people-focused development approach have been highly commended. They are filling gaps created by the failure of the state and market in order to meet the needs of the poor in the developing countries (Bank and Hulme, 2012). They are particularly active where states are failing to provide sufficient goods, services, or where the institutions of the state marginalise a group of people. Civil society creates, in such a situation, enabling environment for the poor or disadvantaged to earn livelihood. They provide alternative sources of service provision and hold government accountable to the people. Some of these contributions are considered below:


International NGOs have assisted in establishing, developing and scaling up local civil society organisations in developing countries. They have promoted the fight against extreme poverty, endemic and preventable diseases, and contributed toward development. They have provided local NGOs and community groups with training in organisational governance, advocacy, fundraising and financial management. NGOs provided links between local organisations and donor organisations and networks. They have also helped the local civil societies to gain access to global expertise and enabled local civil society organisation to implement development programmes. Trained citizens of developing countries particularly women have become leader in civil society, government and academia (Jayawickrama and McCullagh, 2009). They noted that, International NGOs (INGOs) have won a seat at global policy table and have helped local NGOs and civil society groups to claim theirs. Their advocacy in airing the voices of the poor has been a tremendous success.


NGOs as service delivery agent can deliver technical expertise on particular topics as needed by government officials as well as participate directly in operational activities. They provide welfare, technical, legal and financial services to the poor. NGOs also work with community organisations in providing basic service and infrastructure facilities. This is common where government lacks financial resources and organisation expertise to be effective in the provision of those services (Bank and Hulme 2012). This became more prominent in mid-1980s because of the need to mitigate the adverse effect of structural adjustment programme in the developing countries (Dessai 2008). NGOs have the advantage of being "on the ground", neutral, and able to "make the impossible possible by doing what and intergovernmental organisations (IGO) cannot or will not do" (Simmons in Karns and Mingst, 2010:235). The grassroots linkages they offer are the major strength of NGOs that help them to design services and programmes using innovative and experimental approaches based on community participation (Bebbington et al 2008).


Most Northern NGOs were established to provide humanitarian assistance and developed capacities to respond quickly to natural disaster and conflict situation. There closeness to the grass-root and long-term presence in countries gives them useful knowledge to improve the quality of emergency responses and post-conflict reconstruction. They are able to bring crisis to the attention of the developed countries' publics and governments and mobilise resources for action. Example is the role played by international NGOs in creating awareness of the atrocities in Darfur and connection between extreme poverty and humanitarian crisis in Sudan by revealing that north-south conflict is the root cause and pressed for peace (Javawickrama and McCullagh, 2009).


NGOs networks and build movements to achieve social change by influencing attitudes, policies and practices of states and global governance institutions. By this, they have achieved reforms in state services by lobbying for policy changes based on their experiences (Bebbington 2005; Keck and Sikkink 1998). NGOs are agent of new ideas and have a developed capacity to transform field experience into policy influence through policy analysis, evidence building and advocacy (Dessai 2008; Jayawickrama and McCullagh, 2009; Bank and Hulme 2012). They invest in building constituencies in support of their ideas and goals and mobilises these constituencies to press policy-makers and other actors of governance to take specific actions. They often persuade those vested with authority and with greater budget to adopt the new idea in promoting development. At present, CSOs knowledge of the nature and their commitment to address the root causes of poverty is increasing. The case of NGOs engagement in public education and policy advocacy is same. NGOs have helped vocalize the interests of persons not well represented in policymaking and enhanced public participation (Karns and Mingst, 2010). Jubilee 2000 fought for debt relief for highly indebted countries and World Vision raised awareness on the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in Africa (Jayawickrama and McCullagh, 2009). They participated in the formulation of PRSP of many countries.


Because of INGOs long presence in developing countries, they easily identify innovations and successful or promising practices in one context, adapt and replicate the ideas in another context. This is common in technical areas such basic education and maternal health or on addressing gender equity or partnership especially when NGOs serves as a transmission channel and facilitator of an idea or innovation. Through this approach, NGOs have helped in establishing values such as community participation, gender equity and local ownership as bedrock of good development practice. They promote more people-centred and rights based approaches into development discourse (Ibrahim and Hulme, 2010; Jayawickrama and McCullagh, 2009; Bank and Hulme, 2012). The innovations were adapted and promoted in developing countries bring succour to million of poor people especially women (Jayawickrama and McCullagh, 2009; Maathai, 2009).


NGOs have raised an expanding set of donors and supporters. They have engaged them in helping the poor and reducing extreme poverty as a moral issue. This has culminated in billions of dollars raised for development and humanitarian response around the world. They design ways of attracting new supporters and retaining the existing ones through media relations, marketing, branding and fundraising (Maathai 2009; Moyo, 2008; and Smith and Todaro 2011). Models developed include child sponsorship and issue-based campaigns. They created links between the developed countries and developing nations, instil a sense of responsibility for and engagement in building a better world. This enabled people to stand in solidarity with individuals and communities that are less privileged (Jayawickrama and McCullagh, 2009). Example is child sponsorship common in U.S and United Kingdom.


NGOs and other civil society organisations have contributed significantly in generating employment. A survey of NGOs in some countries revealed that 5.1% of total employment and some 10.4million volunteers, making up to 7.1% of total employment (Kaldor, 2002). It includes large-scale NGOs organised both on corporate lines and on bureaucratic lines, to small-scale local NGOs. Some of the biggest NGOs are in the development and relief field, with a budget of roughly $500 million a year for leading NGOs such as Oxfam, Médecins Sans Frontières, Save the Children or CARE (Hulme and Edwards cited by Kaldor 2002).



The roles and growth of civil society organisations have increased greatly and the trend was described as "global associational revolution" (Salamons cited by Kaldor 2002:15). Their successes and activities made scholar to consider them as "promising agent of progressive social change" (Karns and Mingst, 2010:249). Critics argue this rating is now in decline. They opined that, NGOs are motivated by self-interest and exist to advance their own agenda. Critics view them as self-appointed, often nondemocratic and hierarchical organisations.

Critics opined that civil society organisations are increasingly acting like other political actor by pursuing subcontracts for humanitarian and development projects (Wapner 2007). They compete against one another for funding and market themselves to attract rich clients and patrons. Cut corner to get short-term projects. Many NGOs field officials were accused of exchanging food for sex in refugee camps during Sierra Leone civil war (Karns and Mingst, 2010). NGOs sometimes follow procedure and policies, which may lead to "unintended result or worse outcome" (Heins, 2008:41). The Rwanda genocide of 1994 was blame on NGOs while UNHCR actions had unintended and negative outcomes. It was reported that humanitarian aid meant for the poor were diverted to strengthen the very people that caused the tragedy (Terry cited by Karns and Mingst, 2010).

Other critics also assert that NGOs working in conflict conditions act as 'force multiplier' where warring parties and states include the operation of NGOs in their strategies(Lischer cited by Karns and Mingst, 2010). NGOs have worked in some situations in providing intelligence in Afghanistan and reinforced undermanned peacekeeping forces in Darfur. In such situation, they have lost their position of neutrality or independence (Karns and Mingst, 2010; Jayawickrama and McCullagh, 2009)

Finally, critics argue that the independence of international NGOs, stemming from only having to answer to their boards of directors, can lead to poor accountability. The increasing politicisation of aid has also raised questions about just how independent these NGOs are from institutional donors and their policies (Jayawickrama and McCullagh, 2009).


For civil society organisation to remain effective in reducing democratic deficit in global governance, they must themselves ensure their legitimacy as social and political actors. They must be accountable to key stakeholders to improve their contribution to the public good. Civil society has been impressive in holding governments and corporations accountable to policies and promises, their continuing contribution will depend on their capacities to live up to same standard of accountability (Brown et al, 2007). NGOs and their networks are perceived to tend to serve narrow mandate and less faced by trade-off among issues that government do. This gives their leadership freedom in deciding what policy to pursue and in what ways. One World Trust's Global Accountability Report revealed that IGOs are more accountable than NGOs, though few NGOs enjoy high rating. It is only when NGOs are more accountable that they can be perceived as legitimate to close the gap of democratic deficit in global governance (Karns and Mingst, 2010)

There is also challenge of representation for NGOs. Civil societies are accused of have no constituency. NGOs based in developed countries claims to represent the poor, disadvantaged in developing countries (Karns and Mingst, 2010). One cannot be sure if they are true representative and speak the voice of the poor. This notion of representation is contestable. Pitkin in Susanne (2011) expressed four views of political representation: the first is formalistic representation - the institutional mechanisms for set-out of representation. It includes element of authorisation and accountability. Authorisation is the ways through which a representative derives his or her mandate, status, position or office. Accountability refers to as the ability of the governed or electorate to hold their representative accountable for their actions or make them attend to their needs especially by voting erring official out of offi

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