Democratising development: NGOs and the State

Many NGOs around the world are moving beyond conventional project work with its emphasis on `doing' and are attempting to enhance their impact through `influencing'. There are four inter-connected approaches: project replication, grassroots mobilisation, influencing policy reform and international advocacy. Each of these calls for a more strategic relationship between NGOs and governments. For NGOs to move to an effective `influencing' mode requires new skills and a new relationship between Northern and Southern NGOs. The Technological Age, with its emphasis on physical projects, must give way to an Information Age whose `software' comprises access to official information, decision makers and networks; and to skills in communication, lobbying and research. Northern NGOs must be aware that these requirements are becoming more important to their Southern counterparts than funds. If they do not, they will find their relationships will become out-dated, and their erstwhile counterparts will seek new, more appropriate allies - for example, amongst pressure groups in the North.