The Role of Non-Profit Organizations in developing rural communities in Sierra Leone, the case of Khadarlis for Sierra Leone.
In both industrialized and developing countries, there is a growing body of
experience, which attests to the positive roles that non-profit organizations
(NPOs) play in development. (Clark, 1991) These roles include, in particular:
providing goods and services - especially meeting needs which have not
hitherto been met by either the State or by the private sector.
assisting the government achieve its development objectives - in particular
through contributing skills for which NPOs have comparative advantage, such as
public information, education and communications campaigns, or providing
information about the situations and needs of particularly vulnerable
helping citizens to voice their aspirations, concerns and alternatives for
consideration by policy makers, thereby giving substance to governments'
policies regarding freedoms of association and speech;
helping to enhance the accountability and transparency of government and
local government programs and of officials. (World Bank,1996)
For such reasons, one's role as a patriotic participant of society takes varied levels of commitment on the part of citizens the world over. In Industralised welfare societies, non profit organizations work hand in hand with local and International NGO's to forster community and national development and in the case of sub-saharan Africa, majority of the big NGOs and donor organizations are based in the west and extending programs and projects through their national offices located in almost every Country in Africa and beyond.
It has reached a period however that the development paradigm is running around its circle in dramatic propensities. The likes of Khadarlis for Sierra Leone operating from the US and having strong ties with local champions on the ground such as Community Action for Rural Empowerment (CAREM), is an innovation that is poised to create strategic impact that would only be emulated by other small community empowerment organisations. Khadarlis has also been able to establish a very strong local presence in the Providence area in Rhode Island with a gamut of between 35-50 volunteers ready and willing to go an extra mile to further the goals of the organisation. Therefore, the increasing interest on the part of other development
agencies in collaborating with little but effective nonprofits over the past decade is a positive sign for our beneficiaries.
The World Bank for instance usually speaks of non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) by which it means NPOs and community-based organizations
(CBOs) that are (i) entirely or largely independent of government; (ii) not
operated for profit; and (iii) exist to serve humanitarian, social or cultural
interests, either of their memberships or of society as a whole. (World Bank,
The non-profit sector has grown over the years to occupy a
significant proportion of the landscape in both industrialized and developing countries. A recent
study by Johns Hopkins University (Salamon and Anheier, 1998) reveals that the
non profit sector (including government contributions, fees and voluntary
donations of funds and time) is estimated at a staggering $1,311 billion in just
the 5 largest economies (the G5) for 1995. For comparison, this is approximately
the same as the publicly guaranteed debt burden of all developing countries, the
same as the GDP of the 50 low-income countries (including China and India), or
the same as the GDP of the UK. The Johns
Hopkins study concludes, 'the existence of a vibrant non-profit sector is
increasingly being viewed not as a luxury, but as a necessity, for peoples
throughout the world. Such institutions can give expression to citizen concerns,
hold governments accountable, promote community, address unmet needs, and
generally improve the quality of life'. But on the whole, for such wide dreams to be met, its effectiveness to bridge the wide gap between the "haves and the have nots" cannot be superficially restricted to the much trumpeted millinium development goals and its technical indicators. It requires a sustained collaboration among stakeholders in the development matrix.
Such enhanced collaboration
(involving, as it does, the government in question) and relevant development partners and donors can enable the partners to
identify important NGO contributions to development beyond their capacity to
deliver services. Some NGOs have important specialist knowledge, for example
regarding environmental issues. Some NGOs work in close partnership with poor
communities and are able both to help foster participatory development
approaches and to identify priority concerns of poor people. Other NGOs help
strengthen civil society through informing and educating the public, for example
concerning their legal rights or entitlements to services or by helping attune
government policies and practices to the needs of poor citizens.
order for development partners, donor organizations and governments to be able to work effectively with NGOs in a
given country, and to benefit fully from the contributions they can potentially
make to successful development, it is important that NGOs be freely established
and operate without undue constraints; that they be independent of the
government; and be transparent and accountable. Only if such conditions are met
will the NGO sector reflect the full range of relevant viewpoints and expertise
pertinent to a wide variety of development projects. Similarly, NGOs need to
have both the full ranges of powers, privileges, and immunities enjoyed by other
juridical persons in the society. When NGOs are transparent and have
well-developed mechanisms for accountability (to their beneficiaries as well as
to their funders), the integrity of each NGO and of the sector itself is
ensured. There is then a greater likelihood that the NGOs represent accurately
the views of the poor. And guess what, neither governments nor International NGOs normally enter into suburbs and vulnerable communities, some of which have never seen a school or benefited from a water well facility but have been living in their own world independent of the central government. With all intents and purposes, it is only the collaboration of CBOs and local nonprofits can work closely and serve as loud speakers for such God forgotten communities. These are the categories of people that Khadarlis for Sierra Leone is advocating for from the fringes of the US and across several waters to the deep forests of Sierra Leone.
Today in this 21st Century, development partners, philanthropists and donors have expanded their work with the non-profit sector because they have proven from evidence-based research that operational partnership and genuine dialogue makes good business
sense and can make realistic inroads in reaching out to vulnerable groups. Hence their approach to working with this sector is built around
three objectives: strengthening operational collaboration; improving dialogue on
development policy; and improving the effectiveness of NPOs in developing
countries, especially by fostering a policy environment that enables NPOs to
play a more active role in development. In the case of Khadarlis for Sierra Leone, our strategic location in the diaspora remains our strength as we engage our partners today and for ever more.
This is what the President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn once said with regards to the subject:
'In all its forms, civil society
is probably the largest single factor in development, if not in its monetary
contribution, then certainly in it's human contribution and its experience and
its history. ... Depending on local political circumstances, civil society has a
greater or lesser voice, but our experience is that by engaging civil society in
projects and programs, better results are achieved both with design and
implementation and usually greater effectiveness, including more local
ownership. I think we all recognize more and more that local ownership is the
key to successful project effectiveness.'