Mission impossible? Creating partnerships among NGOs, governments, and donors

Using their personal experiences of the East Africa office of a small international NGO, the authors discuss the difficulties faced by NGOs attempting to work in partnership with governments and the private sector. NGOs' comparative lack of resources constitutes an immediate barrier to mutually beneficial partnerships, as does their inability and/or unwillingness to shoulder inherent risks. The authors argue that NGOs can learn from and contribute to these partnerships - for example in their supposed grassroots orientation and representation of the marginalised in society - but should be aware that unless they have input into the design of projects NGOs become no more than contracted service providers.