An analysis of NGO service delivery capacities in Nepal during times of conflict and uncertainty: Technical report (2006)

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The traditional models of country project implementation and service delivery are changing rapidly throughout the world, sometimes to address conflict or uncertain situations. Adapting and responding to these situations, based on a solid understanding of their root causes and their prospective solutions, is critical to the success of future poverty reduction and development programs throughout the world. The Mountain Institute (TMI) has conducted conservation and development programs in Nepal over the past fifteen years. Starting in 1988, TMI began to shift its implementation modality in response to changing situations, institutional priorities, and lessons learned regarding more effective means of service delivery. In 2002, TMI was already well into the process of making the shift to a greater use of local non-government organizations (NGOs) as project implementation and monitoring partners when the Maoist insurgency began to impose new challenges to traditional implementation modalities. The conflict, however, seems to have accelerated this shift, and the purpose of the present study is to determine exactly how effective NGOs have been under contemporary situations of conflict; what new challenges have impacted their ability to implement projects; and how their service delivery and monitoring capacities can be strengthened in spite of violence and uncertain times. Methods included literature reviews, field visits, and key informant interviews involving TMI staff, local NGOs, and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). Topics covered include the background and historical context of the Maoist insurgency in Nepal; the evolution of TMI and other INGO implementation models over time; results of the focus group discussions and interviews; analysis of key findings; and lessons learned and recommendations. The study documents how INGOs and NGOs have used a variety of techniques to continue field activities, safeguard their field staff, and maintain workable relationships with the conflicting parties, even within a situation of civil war. These include lowering their field profiles; developing flexible implementation plans; promoting transparency, impartiality, neutrality, and community ownership; strengthening the capacity of carefully chosen local partners; using local staff; strengthening cooperation/collaboration among stakeholders; and focusing on poor and marginalized groups. Several NGOs, INGOs, and donors interviewed suggested that given in the current situation, development activities must first address people?s immediate needs by providing quick, tangible results, such as bridges, buildings, or other infrastructure activities. The findings show that working through NGOs is indeed an effective means of building the local capacity and sustainability of program activities, and it was for this reason that many international organizations started working through local NGO partners well before the current conflict. The conflict itself, however, was found to have been a catalyst for encouraging INGOs to become truly focused on strengthening in-country NGO capacity, and for local NGOs to focus more on the strengthening of their diagnostic, participatory planning, implementation, monitoring, and reporting skills. Additionally, it was found that whether or not an INGO works through local NGOs is less important than the details of how the programs are carried out.
Language: English
Imprint: The Mountain Institute 2006
Series: Report,