Thursday, 6 March 2008

Get me out of this relationship

BOND says that "the quality of an NGO’s work is primarily determined by the quality of its relationships with its intended beneficiaries".

I worry about this. From the point of view of the poor, why should the quality of 'the relationship' matter? It is the outcome in terms of:
  • health
  • education
  • wealth
  • or some other predefined goal
...which matters. Whether they had a friendly relationship or not is neither here nor there.

BOND's Joni Hillman writes that:
For a sector that works with fundamental issues of power and change, we are surprisingly reluctant to address them closer to home. These debates have been moving up and down the agenda for many years but we now seem to have reached a point where internal and external pressures are combining to demand that 'something must be done'.
That's right. But instead of quality standards, organisational learning, declarations and (urgh!) outcome mapping we need to consider something which will actually work.

The only people who can really pressure government and NGOs to change are tax-payers and individual donors. A system of open, frank feedback from the 'beneficiaries' of aid to those who fund it would finally bring about the genuine accountability that the sector craves.

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