International nongovernmental organizations have expertise, local knowledge and respond quickly during disasters. But the United States needs to engage with “a broader range of partners.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made this statement at the second day of the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative in New York. She said much of the United States’ development aid is “still invested through one group of partners — international NGOs.”
“We want to continue our successful relationships with them, but we also need to broaden and increase our network of partnerships to advance our work in development,” she said. “Given the landscape we face, that makes sense.”
Clinton’s words — although she did not expound on the idea — may sound logical, in light of a changing development landscape. Donors have increasingly placed importance on value for money in every aid dollar spent. They have also recognized the role of the private sector in development, engaging in a number of public-private partnerships.
But her words could create a big hole in the pockets of international NGOs. With unpredictable funding and increasing competition, these organizations are already stretching aid dollars. Some have started turning to other sources of finance, from crowdfunding to social games.
“INGOs have a lot to offer,” Women Thrive Worldwide President and co-founder Ritu Sharma told Devex in an interview following Clinton’s speech. While she supports building local capacity, she thinks the “U.S. government could find ways to partner with INGOs and build on the community-level work that they’ve done and the expertise” while also investing in local NGOs.
Meanwhile, here are some of the new partnerships announced at the second day of the event:
IKEA Foundation pledged €6.88 million ($8.9 million) to KickStart, a social enterprise bringing human-powered irrigation pumps to small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, boosting their livelihood. The money will help KickStart expand its work in Zambia and southern Africa.
The Dow Chemical Co. committed to provide funding and technical expertise to social enterprises under Acumen Fund’s portfolio in East and West Africa. The initiative aims to boost the development of products and services for agriculture, water, sanitation and energy.
Pearson Foundation and Johnson & Johnson each committed $250,000 for Room to Read and Fistula Foundation, respectively, through an upcoming social game on Facebook, titled: Half the Sky Movement: The Game. The game highlights women’s issues and is set to benefit eight NGOs.
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