The rise and fall of government support for small-scale voluntary development organisations - and their remarkable resilience
SourceDevelopment Policy Review, (2021)
26 april 2021
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
Development Policy Review
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies
Motivation: The aid architecture for international development has been changing significantly in recent years, but it remains unclear how the established order has responded to the emergence of new actors in this field. Purpose: The article closely analyses the entry of small-scale, voluntary development organizations to gain a better understanding of the changing aid architecture. Methods and approach: Through extensive policy tracing over a 15-year period, combined with analysis of primary, longitudinal data, we study how private development initiatives (PDIs) have been received by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and established development organizations in the Netherlands. We focus on the type of support provided to PDIs and the (changing) rationale underlying this support. Findings: After many years of generous support, PDIs are no longer part of the Dutch policy agenda as a result of vanishing attention to the rationale of public support. The professionalization agenda underlying both the financial and non-financial support provided to PDIs also prompted these organizations to move away from the traditional order. PDIs successfully sought alternative allies, surviving as actors in their own right. These two developments have resulted in mutual disengagement between the established order and PDIs, with increasingly less co-operation and interaction. Policy implications: PDIs have not been genuinely included in the traditional development order in the Netherlands, making it questionable whether their emergence contributed to a more plural community as envisaged by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the turn of the century. To make use of the value of actively involved citizens, policy-makers will have to set up appropriate frameworks that recognize and preserve the distinctive nature of these organizations and, in so doing, capitalize on the comparative advantages of PDIs.
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