Non-governmental organizations and poverty reduction Uganda; a case of compassion international in Kisoro District
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An overwhelming body of literature claims that Non-Governmental Organizations are an important engine of development. They are considered to be the “third sector” to the State and the Market. Analysts argue that NGOs not only improve local people’s participation in development processes but also use appropriate approaches to development. The motivation for this study was therefore to investigate whether these theorized phenomena apply to developing countries like Uganda. The study investigates the contributions of NGOs to poverty reduction in Uganda with specific reference to Compassion International in Kisoro district. It investigates the beneficiary’s form of participation; people’s perceptions on the approaches used by the NGO; and the working relations between the NGO and the district authorities in poverty reduction. Using a case study design combining both qualitative and quantitative methods, the findings indicate that NGOs do promote education and training, health, environmental conservation, and protection against child abuse. However, NGOs are not panacea to poverty reduction in the country. Instead, NGOs are becoming puppets of foreign donors on whom they rely for funding opportunities. They are dependent, elitist, corrupt, less accountable to the beneficiaries and more answerable to their foreign financial benefactors. These flaws lay the foundation for religious strictness, over-concentration in urban areas, passive and pseudo-participation, and inadequate monitoring and evaluation of projects. These findings prove that NGOs are less capable of reducing poverty than has been theorized and idiosyncratically propagated, because they come with pre-planned agendas with strings attached, under the camouflage of poverty reduction. The study therefore, recommends a paradigm shift: use locally available resources to fund NGOs and to sustainably and accountably induce development. This could be followed by empowering and training the beneficiaries with life skills instead of giving them tangible gifts that do not last but instead force them to develop a dependency syndrome. Granting full educational support, involving beneficiaries in all decision making and demanding for accountability and greater partnership with local government authorities would also create synergy between non-governmental and governmental development interventions in the district and indeed the whole country.