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The rise of neoliberalism and the so-called Washington Consensus have generated a powerful international agenda of what constitutes good governance, democratisation, and the proper role of the state and civil society in advancing development. As public spending has declined, the NGO sector has massively benefited from taking on a service-delivery role. At the same time, as civil society organisations,, NGOs are a convenient channel through which official agencies can promote political pluralism. But can NGOs play these roles simultaneously? Can they both facilitate governments' withdrawal from providing basic services for all and also claim to represent the poor and the disenfranchised? Are NGOs legitimate political actors in their own right? Jenny Pearce introduces papers that describe some of the tensions inherent in the roles being played by NGOs, and asks whether they truly stand for anything fundamentally different from the agencies on whose largesse they increasingly depend.
Contributors; Preface; Development, NGO's, and civil society: the debate and its future; Scaling up NGO impact on development: learning from experience; Help yourself by helping The Poor; NGO's: ladles in the global soup kitchen?; Collaboration with the South: agents of aid or solidarity?; Corporate governance for NGO's?; 'Dancing with the prince': NGO's survival strategies in the Afghan conflict; NGO's and the state: a case-study from Uganda; NGO's, the poor, and political theory; Depoliticising development: the uses and abuses of participation; Birds of a feather? UNDP and ActionAid implementation of Sustainable Human Development; Strengthening civil society: participatory action research in a militarised state; Annotated bibliography; Addresses of publishers and other organisations