UNDP/FAO/ANGOC Organize a National Workshop on NGO Involvement in Grassroots Development
FAO/Technical Cooperation Project on "Project Formulation for People's Participation in Rural Development Activities"
NGO Impact on Policy- and Decision-making
NGOs and Donor Agencies
Increased Networking between NGOs and International Organizations
Networking at the National Level
In 1985, the Asian NGO Coalition launched a new programme to further promote the government/NGO/donor collaboration. The 1985 Asian NGO Regional Workshop on Rural Development Cooperation prepared a conceptual framework and guidelines for the conduct of national tripartite workshops to be held in those countries which had ANGOC members. The objectives of the tripartite workshops included: sharing of information and discussion of policies and programmes of all three groups; identification of issues and areas for further discussion; facilitation of bilateral assistance to NGO projects in line with the WCARRD Programme of Action. ANGOC members in South and Southeast Asia organized several such meetings. For purposes of example, the national meetings in the Philippines are discussed in detail here.
The national tripartite workshop for the Philippines took place in May 1985 as a cooperative effort between the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDhrra, the national-level ANGOC affiliate in the Philippines), the National Council on Integrated Area Development (NACIAD) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The NACIAD at that time was identified as the focal point for rural development concerns while the DAR was considered focal point for agrarian reform in connection to WCARRD follow-up activities. At the workshop, a key government official from the DAR expressed the need to discuss and develop mechanisms for institutionalizing closer coordination among government agencies, NGOs and donor. The FAO representative reiterated this need with the statement that the workshop was viewed as the "first in a series of periodic meetings (and) as a continuing mechanism for governments, NGOs and donors to promote dialogue, share information, explore possible field projects with an emphasis on NGO participation, and discuss relevant rural development issues".
A second tripartite dialogue which took place in 1988 was sponsored by ANGOC, PhilDhrra and the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), had as its theme "Prospects for GO-NGO/PO-Donor Collaboration on Agrarian Reform". This involved a series of related regional meetings for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao was organized by ANGOC and PhilDhrra in collaboration with the Department of Agrarian Reform and with support from FAO. These regional meetings allowed government and NGO representatives to discuss problems and opportunities for cooperation in implementing agrarian reform, particularly since agrarian reform stood as the centerpiece of the government's national vision and programme for change.
With the change of government in 1986 came clear pronouncements recognizing the role and contribution of NGOs in the development process. This paved the way for better government/NGO dialogue and greater cooperation at various levels. Article 2, Section 23 and Article 13, Sections 15 and 16 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution make explicit the state's support and respect for the developmental roles of NGOs, and their right to participate as agents of development. This new recognition of the contributions of NGOs is also found in the government's "Policy Agenda for People-Powered Development" and in the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Mid-Term Development Plan (1987-92).
With this shift in government policy, many more government departments and agencies initiated meetings with NGOs to exchange information and, in several cases, to request assistance and collaboration in the implementation of government programmes and activities.
In some cases, bilateral and multilateral agencies encouraged government agencies to involve the NGO sector in government programmes. In the last quarter of 1987, for example, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Planning Department of the Philippine government organized two seminars to review government policy on NGOs and elicit recommendations for further government/NGO collaboration. UNDP provided support for the seminars. As a result of these seminars and other regional meetings, a policy paper on NGOs was formulated by NEDA in March 1988.
The latter part of the 1980s can be characterized as a period of expanding knowledge and understanding on the part of the Philippine government of the nature and workings of the NGO sector. To allow for a more systematic review of the NGO sector, ANGOC was contracted by UNDP to write studies of six main sectors with heavy NGO involvement - population, health and welfare; urban poor development; cooperatives, self-help groups, credit delivery; small-scale fisheries; community forestry/environment; and agrarian reform and rural development. ANGOC provided backstopping to several key NGOs and NGO networks involved in these sectors for the preparation of the papers. Published together, the sector papers came to be regarded as a major reference document.
This workshop was designed for the presentation and discussion of the NGO sector studies described above, in order to broaden awareness of NGO functioning. A second objective of the workshop was to bring together key representatives of government, NGOs and UN agencies such as FAO and UNDP to jointly discuss development priorities in specific sectors and identify areas for government/NGO collaboration.
The hope was that government/NGO dialogue at the workshop would move beyond policy-level discussions, and result in the defining of concrete forms of collaboration and possibly even the identifying of potential pilot projects.
More than 40 participants attended the workshop which was held 9-11 March 1989. Twenty of the participants were executive directors or senior management staff of national and regional NGO networks. There were 10 representatives from government agencies, either directors or undersecretaries involved in policy and operations. The high level of participation of government officials who participated at the workshop indicated the attention and support given by the government agencies to such consultations. Twelve representatives from bilateral and multilateral agencies attended, including UNDP. FAO, ILO, UNV, UNICEF, WFP, World Bank and the Australian, Dutch and Canadian bilateral aid agencies.
The workshop participants drafted a number of policy recommendations to "enhance greater people's participation, improve the climate for joint partnership efforts between government and NGOs/POs, and promote effective and meaningful involvement of international organizations in national development efforts".
The key policy recommendations were as follows:
1) NGOs vis-a-vis the private sector - Government should make a clear distinction between development-oriented and business organizations when referring to participation by the "private sector" in policy- and decision-making bodies and in government programmes.A number of follow-up actions were also recommended by the workshop, both at the general level and for specific sectors. Among the suggested activities for follow-up were:
2) Guidelines for government/NGO partnership - A code of ethics for government/NGO partnership in development programmes should be formulated.
3) Accreditation of NGOs - If accreditation of NGOs is made mandatory as a prerequisite for collaboration with government, simple, non-bureaucratic means for granting formal recognition to NGOs should be developed.
4) Official Development Assistance - A manual of guidelines for external assistance to joint government/NGO projects should be disseminated.
5) Government organizing efforts - Government should follow the principle of subsidiarity, and not take on tasks that NGOs are already performing. In essence, it should not create people's organizations in areas where NGOs have already organized base constituencies or where NGOs/POs have the ability to facilitate people's self-organization.
6) Nature of NGO participation in government programmes - NGOs should be involved in project development - from planning, to implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Regular government/NGO dialogue and field-level interactions should be established. The formation of Regional Information Centers, parallel to current efforts in setting up Regional Development Councils, would effectively help decentralize information about government programmes.
7) Establishment of effective NGO liaison desks in government - Effective NGO liaison desks in government offices should be established not only to serve as information centres but also to have the authority to decide on matters requiring immediate attention.
8) Insurgency and militarization - In the near term, both NGOs and government should exert a major effort to reorient/reform the military and bureaucracy, and to institutionalize a joint government/military/NGO body for dialogue backed by a strong policy mandate from the top levels of the national government.
9) Bureaucracy and "red tape" - A major effort should be directed towards the effective decentralization and regionalization of government structures, decisions and resources. Simpler procedures and accounting and auditing requirements need to be instituted.
10) Integration of sectoral concerns - Various development sectors should identify areas for cooperation and should share resources such as training centres and office space.
11) NGO components in externally funded projects - Multilateral agencies such as UNDP and FAO, as well as bilateral and other multilateral and UN agencies, should incorporate NGO involvement in development projects. Government agencies, in the process of making project proposals and preparing country reviews, should consult NGOs.
1) NEDA and relevant government agencies should request further UNDP/FAO preparatory assistance for the design and implementation of 2-4 projects identified in consultation with concerned NGOs and POs.
2) Government/NGO/donor meetings should be regularized to provide a forum to discuss and set priorities for the national development agenda, particularly in light of recent efforts by multilateral and bilateral agencies to coordinate official development assistance.
3) "Pipeline" projects that are being forwarded to FAO, UNDP or other multilateral and bilateral agencies should have at least an NGO component.
4) In new projects to be identified, it is even more desirable to ensure that NGOs and POs are consulted by the relevant agencies in the project design stage.
5) Where possible, specific geographic areas should be targeted for pilot project activities, taking into account geographic spread and concentration of NGOs by sector and by location. The absorptive capacities of the NGOs should be improved through human resource development components built into the project activities.
As a follow-up to the UNDP/FAO/ANGOC National Workshop on NGO Involvement in Grassroots Development, where attention was drawn to the lack of institutional mechanisms for collaboration among government, NGOs and people's organizations, ANGOC designed a new project for FAO funding under its Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP).
The objectives of this project were to review the state of existing mechanisms for collaboration and to assist in the reformulation of selected projects "in the pipeline". The project involved bringing together of staff from four government agencies and four NGOs involved in rural development activities. The government agencies were the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). The government representatives to the project were determined based on their capacity to influence decisions within the government agency and to commit government resources to carry out resolutions coming out of the project. The NGOs involved in the project were the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDhrra), Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Cooperative Union of the Philippines (CUP) and ANGOC. These NGOs were selected because of their strong linkages at the grassroots level and their level of expertise and experience in the subjects covered by the project.
The project resulted in the following major outputs:
- proposed mechanisms relating to NGO collaboration with participating government agencies;Before developing a standardized framework for government/NGO/PO partnership, the project team conducted an assessment of the experiences of the four participating government agencies in working with NGOs and people's organizations. Each agency assessment was conducted jointly by the agency concerned and an NGO. The results of these assessments were then used as a basis to formulate the framework.
- a proposed framework and mechanism for formulating projects for people's participation;
- organization of a national workshop to share findings and results of activities and elicit feedback from other NGOs;
- examination of ongoing projects and "pipeline" project proposals to be submitted to UNDP for possible funding and inclusion in the fifth UNDP/IPF cycle.
The framework was further developed and refined through consultations with various NGO and PO representatives and government officials. The framework indicates where and how NGOs and people's organizations can be involved in the whole cycle of project development. It highlights the conditions necessary for achieving the objectives of any government/NGO partnership. It also describes the seven phases of project development, from conception through monitoring and evaluation and turnover of management to the community.
The project team also developed two other documents that became integral to the framework. These are the "Principles of GO/NGO/PO Partnership", which describes guideposts for cooperation among the three groups, and "Levels of Partnership" which presents five distinct levels for measuring the degree of government/NGO collaboration.
The national workshop was held 7-9 November 1992 at Tagaytay City. Forty-nine participants attended, including 22 NGO and PO leaders and 17 senior government officials. Two department secretaries, representatives from FAO, UNDP and other multilateral and bilateral agencies also participated.
The workshop served as the venue for fine-tuning and validating the assessment reports on government/NGO collaboration experienced by DA, DAR, DENR, and NEDA. It also deliberated on the newly formulated Framework for Collaboration, and the two documents on principles and levels of partnership. The workshop explored areas for joint collaboration at national and field levels and identified projects where government/NGO collaboration could be implemented immediately.
In order to secure endorsement of the Framework by the NGO and PO community, as well as its adoption by the Aquino government, a series of meetings was held with major NGO and PO networks. To date, the following groups and sectors have indicated their support for the Framework: the Caucus of Development NGO Networks in the Philippines (CODE-NGO), an alliance of 10 NGO networks with a membership of about 1,500 NGOs nationwide; the Multi-Sectoral Crisis Action Network (TUGMA), a coalition of major organizations of peasants, labourers, women, fisherfolk and urban poor; Cooperative Union of the Philippines (CUP), a confederation of 11 national cooperative networks and 13 regional unions with an estimated constituency of one million members.
The project team developed a questionnaire to ensure people's participation at all stages of the project cycle. This checklist can be used to determine the level of involvement of NGOs and people's organizations. Two versions of the "Guide Questionnaire to Ensure People's Participation in Rural Development Activities" were developed - one intended as a guide for donor agencies, and another formulated specifically for UNDP.
A total of 19 FAO/UNDP "pipeline" projects were assessed by the project team. However, eight of the projects were found to focus on institution building within the DA, DAR, and DENR, and the Framework did not apply to this type of project.
In addition, four new project proposals were developed by the project:
- "New Village Settlement Project";
- "Sustainable Agrarian Reform Community Development";
- "Surigao del Sur Community Resource and Technology Development Pilot Project"; and
- "Organization and Development of a Municipal-Based Cooperative Market in Candaba, Pamapanga".
ANGOC's major thrust since it began as a regional network has been the promotion of dialogue and collaboration among government, NGOs and people's organizations in support of the WCARRD Programme objectives. It has pursued activities aimed at strengthening relations among these three groups. In the Philippines, the FAO TCP project represented a major step in this direction.
One concrete result of the project was its significant contribution to formulating the new rural development framework of the Philippine government. This new development framework involves a Countryside Agro-industrial Development Strategy (CAIDS) which is to be implemented through the establishment of Agro-Industrial Development Areas (AIDA).
Drawing on experience gained in the course of the project, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) formulated the CAIDS strategy which incorporates an important role for NGOs. As stated in the section of the document dealing with the operationalization of Agro-Industrial Development Areas (AIDA) it stresses that "NGOs may serve as overall area coordinators who shall be responsible for synchronizing the implementation of the various project components in the area. NGOs shall provide assistance in organizing communities, cooperative development, and in building the capabilities of beneficiaries or local residents through relevant training".
The AIDA programme also emphasizes the links that need to be built among government agencies, NGOs and the target clientele or people's organizations - an important aspect of the predecessor FAO project. It should be noted that the secretariat that drafted the AIDA framework comprised many of the members of the project team - staff from DA, DAR, DENR and NEDA.
A key element in promoting people's participation has been the strengthening of the capacity of grassroots groups or people's organizations - not only NGOs - to become involved in decision-making about development. A number of mechanisms to allow sectoral or community groups to participate at certain levels in decision-making have been set up by several government agencies in the Philippines. The majority of these mechanisms have been viewed critically by NGOs and POs who believe that the typically top-down approach of government has not led to the involvement of legitimate people's organizations.
In 1989, PhilDhrra, ANGOC's network member in the Philippines, launched a programme to facilitate the implementation of agrarian reform through a partnership between the government and people's organizations. PhilDhrra's past experiences of dialoguing with government on agrarian reform and rural development issues enabled it to negotiate with three major government agencies (DA, DAR, DENR) to implement the programme. It also initiated discussions with other NGOs and with academic and research institutions (Institute of Agrarian Studies, Institute of Philippine Culture, Asian Institute of Management and SEARSOLIN) and more importantly with farmers' organizations to draw up the design of the programme. The establishment of a partnership with academic institutions was seen as essential in providing the technical expertise and support that would be needed to undertake a large-scale programme, particularly on the research, monitoring, evaluation and systems management needs. This was the beginning of the Tripartite Partnership for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (TriPARRD).
The aims of TriPARRD are to improve the quality of life of Philippine peasants through actual land transfer and the delivery of support services. This is to be accomplished by:
- strengthening existing people's organizations and increasing the number of organized communities;TriPARRD's first target provinces were Antique, Bukidnon and Camarines Sur - one province in each of the country's three major regions. The three provinces were selected following a number of criteria deemed essential in implementing the programme. These criteria were: the presence of a strong network of NGOs involved in rural development, the existence of organized farmers' groups and the willingness of the NGOs/POs and key government officials in the province to cooperate together and embark on a common venture. Introduction of the programme in each province was accomplished through a series of meetings and consultations with NGOs, POs and government. At these consultations, roles were defined and commitments obtained. The necessary structure and mechanisms for a three-way partnership were put in place at both the provincial and national levels.
- building up the capability of NGOs and people's organizations involved in the programme;
- consolidating coalitions of NGOs and POs;
- firming up links between NGOs, people's organizations and government; and
- strengthening advocacy for land reform through ground-level experiential learning.
After little more than a year of full implementation, it is clear that the NGOs have helped tremendously in expediting land transfer, coordinating support services delivery and building and strengthening agrarian reform beneficiary organizations. The NGOs have created several innovative mechanisms to speed the process of agrarian reform:
- community mapping to help identify potential beneficiaries, resolve community-based land disputes and arrive at a more accurate technical survey;In addition to the initial three provinces, the programme has now been formally expanded to three other provinces: Quezon, Leyte and Davao del Norte. Other Philippine NGOs concerned with agrarian reform even outside the PhilDhrra network have indicated an interest in participating in the programme and expanding it to other provinces.
- a tracking system to monitor movement of property titles, which will become the basis for joint government/NGO/PO planning, delivery of various support services to agrarian reform communities, and the growth and development of POs;
- TriPARRD coordinating committees - tripartite government/NGO/PO bodies organized at the estate, provincial and national levels to coordinate the agrarian reform activities of various programme actors and focus them on priority sites;
- comprehensive community development planning, driven by people's organizations and assisted by NGOs and government, which starts with the community defining its vision and concept of development, programmes and projects, and ends with various government agencies and NGOs committing assistance in accordance with their own resources and competence;
- deployment of a fulltime organizer in a community for agrarian reform community organizing, to catalyze the building and strengthening of people's organizations around agrarian reform activities, to coordinate and mobilize government and NGOs, and to assist in land transfer paperwork.
Over the years, donor agencies have come to play an important role in supporting development activities in the developing countries of Asia. Most of this support has been channeled through the governments as official development assistance (ODA). Increasingly, however, bilateral and multilateral agencies are recognizing the capabilities of NGOs to reach grassroots groups. NGOs are regarded as legitimate alternatives to the bureaucracies of government. As a result, significant moves have been made by many donors to develop relationships with NGOs and to channel ODA to NGO projects and activities.
NGOs have several roles vis-a-vis donors. One is the involvement of NGOs in policy concerns of both government and donors. Some NGOs perform sub-contracting functions for existing programmes and projects of donors and government. Others monitor and assess projects at various stages of implementation. Some NGOs seek the support of donors in order to define, formulate, develop and implement their own projects.
Financial assistance to NGOs in developing countries generally comes from two sources: grants by donor NGOs going directly to recipient NGOs, and portions of ODA which are channeled to recipient NGOs either for joint government/NGO undertakings or for programmes or projects implemented directly by NGOs. In 1989, total assistance made available to NGOs worldwide increased to US $6.1 billion from about US $5.4 billion in 1987. For the same period, ODA which has gone to NGOs has also increased - from US$ 1.9 billion to around US$ 2.1 billion.
There are currently several mechanisms through which NGOs receive ODA funds. One such mechanism has evolved largely from government initiatives to involve NGOs in the implementation of foreign-assisted government projects. This has led to the emergence of NGOs which some observers call "public service contractors". This trend has been criticized because of the cooptive and short-term nature of the government/NGO partnership.
Other mechanisms, however, feature longer-term partnerships with funds administered directly by ODA sources. The bilateral arrangements between the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and countries in the Asian region are perhaps the most well developed example. Since the beginning of the 1980s, CIDA has pursued country-specific development assistance programmes (DAPs) which provide "block financing" for NGO sector activities. These arrangements include the Indonesia-Canada Forum (ICF), Philippine Development Assistance Programme (PDAP), Local Development Assistance Programme (LDAP) in Thailand, Philippines-Canada Human Resource Development Programme (PCHRD), the Sri Lanka-Canada Development Fund (SLCDF), and the Women's Economic and Leadership Development Programme (WELD) in Thailand. In all these examples, NGOs are involved in the policy and management of the programmes.
A bilateral support mechanism still in use is the administering of funds by Canadian Embassies in support of small NGO projects. These Mission-Administered Funds (MAF) are now referred to as the Canada Fund.
A multilateral mechanism which has supported NGO activities (and which is laying the foundation for even greater NGO access to ODA funding) is the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP). Working with an eye to greater government/NGO/PO collaboration, the FAO TCP explores government project development cycles (especially projects relating to rural development) and reviews ongoing and "pipeline" projects funded by UNDP. This Programme seeks to influence government to channel significant levels of ODA for NGO activities, and to identify new projects for direct implementation by NGOs.
In February, 1989, ANGOC, together with the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) and LDAP, organized the "Asian Regional Consultation: Strategic Analysis of Development Partnerships in Asia" in Chiengmai, Thailand. The primary objective of the consultation, which was attended by representatives from the DAPs supported by CIDA, Canadian NGOs and CIDA itself, was to review and reflect upon the experiences of development assistance programmes in Asia. Continued widening of NGO access to multilateral and bilateral ODA sources will undoubtedly provide opportunities for even greater NGO growth.
The 1980s were years of dramatic growth for the NGO sector in Asian countries. Even more dramatic has been the accompanying increase in the networking within countries and between countries - both within the Asian region and with other regions.
While in previous years, NGOs within the region had a tendency to view one another with suspicion and a sense of rivalry/there have been marked attempts to improve relations among NGOs, particularly within countries. Much of the existing tension is a result of differing views and positions vis-a-vis government, or of competition for what are often perceived as scarce financial resources from donors. This situation has greatly improved through increased interaction among NGOs. NGO coordinating bodies and networks in Asia have helped in facilitating this process particularly in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The experience of regional networks such as ANGOC in its more than 10 years of existence is an eloquent example of the stronger links and more effective networking that is beginning to occur among Asian NGOs. The network structure of ANGOC began to evolve in the days before WCARRD, with the setting up of the regional steering group in 1978. The regional workshop in 1979, organized to discuss the Asian People's Campaign, led to the formation of ANGOC and constituted its initial membership base. The organization of ANGOC at the Asian regional level provided the impetus for organizing a national network in Sri Lanka and for the revitalization of others. There are currently 22 national and regional ANGOC members which form the membership core, with an estimated outreach to 10.000 NGOs and people's organizations in the Region.
Through its many programmes, projects and activities, ANGOC has provided much needed resources to its members and partners for strengthening their networking activities at country level. ANGOC has organized numerous forms of technical cooperation in the ASEAN region for member NGO networks, providing them with valuable field exposure and learning opportunities. The themes of these study visits have included: credit and marketing for low-income groups, natural resource management and subsistence fisheries.
Studies on the NGO sector in different Asian countries have provided opportunities for ANGOC members to build their research and documentation capabilities. Through numerous workshops and meetings at sub-regional and regional levels, organized in conjunction with other international organizations, ANGOC has facilitated exchanges and linkage-building in the NGO community.
ANGOC took a leading role in organizing the Southeast Asia Regional Consultation on People's Participation in Environmentally Sustainable Development, held in 1990 in Indonesia with the collaboration of several other regional and national networks. This paved the way for the eventual formation of a Southeast Asian Consortium (SEACON) to coordinate contributions from the region's NGOs to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and other advocacy activities. SEACON's cooperating networks are: ANGOC, the Asian Cultural Forum on Development (ACFOD), APPROTECH ASIA, Management Institute for Social Change (MINSOC), and Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (WALHI). The formation of SEACON represents a significant step in strengthening the impact of the NGO sector in the region.
Efforts to strengthen networking and coalition building among NGOs at the national level are most advanced in the Philippines. Since 1988, several NGO networks have taken important steps to facilitate more fruitful relationships within the Philippine NGO community. As a result, a new coalition has been set up to bring together the country's 10 major NGO networks.
In December 1991, members of the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) signed a Covenant on Philippine Development which defines the development principles and goals that should guide the development work of NGOs and POs. The covenant identifies issues and conditions which hamper genuine development in the Philippines, and points to the need for immediate government action to respond to development imperatives. The covenant also outlines rights and responsibilities for NGOs and POs as partners in the development process.
This example in the Philippines is yet another breakthrough in coordinating the efforts of the NGO sector. The criticism among governments and donors that NGO initiatives are often fragmented and uncoordinated is gradually being overcome with increasing coordination and collaboration among NGOs. The definition of a common vision and the growth and expansion of concerted action for rural development are slowly but surely taking place in the NGO community.