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The field of development has two competent stakeholders; the government and NGO sector. Both, with their unique qualities and ways of contribution, are leading their way into the domain. It is this uniqueness that makes the question of “which one is better?” more difficult and complicated to answer.

While bureaucracy often has the risk of slow decision making along with possibilities when the real beneficiaries are left out of the picture, the corruption, excessive politics risking lives and so on, ultimately affecting the quality of a project and its outcome.

In case of NGOs, they have to their strengths; autonomous decision making, commitment and dedication, access to grass root facts etc.

These are some commonly (and easily) known facts about both the stakeholders that largely influence popular judgement on their respective performances.

But what one might miss out in this is the small number of government projects which are in run successfully (with quality impact), and a large number of the NGOs, with not so great output.

In short, this question isn’t something that can be answered either in black or white.It’s a rather “grey” area, with no straight answer. This metaphor of Grey can be interpreted in two ways;

  1. Each of the stakeholders has its own strengths and weaknesses, which makes each of them a combination of black and white, i.e. Grey.
  2. This interpretation suggests that, both the stakeholders (which are categorised into either black or white) to be combined to create a Grey zone.

The second interpretation is what we would like to propose as an answer to our previous question, where both;the government and NGOs, will come together, collaborate, combine best of both, thus already ensuring a better outcome.

For example, the government is often loaded with funds, has the network and infrastructural facilities to implement and scale up a project. On the other hand, there are otherwise efficient and competentNGOs struggling even to cover even the basic costs of the project, hence making the possibility of scaling up the project more difficult.

On the other hand, very often, the NGO’s have loads of facts, insights and resources from the grass root. While the government can provide the NGOs with monitory and infrastructural support, NGOs can bring the government closer to field and to the people.

In such case, collaboration between the two indeed proves to be the most desirable solution. The interdependence in the strengths indeed will act as support to each other.

Now that we know how the collaboration will work for best interests of both the agencies, let’s come back to the “Grey” metaphor; the later shade of “grey” can only be achieved if there is a catalyst to facilitate the mixing of the two and in the context that we just discussed, Opash is to serve as that catalyst.

Though the government and NGOs have their own lacuna’s in the systems, a common problem that they face is mostly with the documentation and research. While government often gets stuck with excessive paper work, and make their records rather reader unfriendly by complicating the content, NGOs are often noticed to have underestimated the need of documenting their processes, success-stories and failures as well as outcomes, systematically, and to equip their team members with the required skills thereby falling into higher risk of credit-theft, and reducing the possibility of successful replication of the models.

As a result of this, most of the times government agency hardly moves ahead of the on paper version of the plan, while the NGOs continue to struggle to prove the value in their plan to the outside world (well, mainly to the funding agency), lack of documentation puts a question mark on their accountability inspite of the dedication and extensive amount of work they have put in.

Another common lacuna is the lack of sufficient background research. Many a time the interventions that are planned are instinct-based and impulsive rather than fact-based.They tend to be driven by emotions than by logic and reality.

Prior to designing any intervention, the area to be benefited has to be studied, in terms of its requirements in the context of proposed project, there has to be an anticipation of the possible challenges, and the expected outcome.

Along with this awareness, comes the clarity in the objective. The intervening agency must possess utmost clarity on why the location of the intervention and the particular method of intervention has been chosen by them. Considering the diversity of aspects that exist to a particular theme, there should also be clarity on which aspect has been chosen by the concerned agency, as well as what approach has been chosen.

Whether people i.e. the proposed beneficiaries want the suggested intervention or if they are ready to accept it,is another crucial consideration.

All of this has to be supported by the reality, and should not merely be hypothetical. To be precise, there has to be substantial amount of thinking done before acting.

Given this background, let’s now also focus a bit on the model that Opash suggests as a solution to overcome the shortcomings.

Opash’s solution is through the unique service it offers in systemizing the processes, with research-based approach, catering to the needs of research, sequencing and structuring the process, record maintenance,fulfilment of ethical considerations and most importantly ensures facilitation of hand in hand work of different entities to achieve optimum results for the proposed goal and communication of the best practices to facilitate effective replication. Opash is aiming to be an implementation partner for both, government and private entities, guide/assist them for effective research-documentation and communication, with an aim to achieve maximum quality output.


Pallavi Bhurewar