NGOs, Civil Society, and Development

  • Badru Bukenya
  • Sam Hickey
Part of the Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies book series (NCSS, volume 20)


Civil society in Africa has been shaped by a number of developments over the recent years, including the incomplete democratic wave that has produced “hybrid” political regimes, ideological and financial imperatives promoted by international donors, and the varied success of different modes of nongovernmental public action. One important implication of these influences has been a tendency to emphasize the developmental rather than the political role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society in Africa, a move that has sharply divided scholarly opinion in terms of civil society’s progressive potential. Whereas NGOs have continued to access large-scale funding, skeptics feel that this has transformed them from functioning as incubators of alternative development ideas into “partners” charged with delivering development programs on behalf of states and donors. For optimists, the idea of partnership is not inherently bad as it could provide opportunities for both the state and the NGOs to collaborate in advancing their agendas around democracy and development. The aim of this chapter is to illuminate these debates further by drawing on the existing literature from sub-Saharan Africa. The chapter suggests that, for NGOs to remain relevant, they will need to reposition themselves—such that rather than locating themselves within the civil society sector, NGOs should instead occupy the space between the state, market, and civil society. The chapter provides practical suggestions on how this can be achieved.


Civil Society Service Delivery Civil Society Actor Traditional Authority Citizenship Formation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environment and DevelopmentUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM)University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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