An analysis of the operative capacity of non-governmental organizations in the Southern region of Punjab Province, Pakistan

An analysis of the operative capacity of non-governmental organizations in the Southern region of... Abstract This study explores the operative capacity of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the Southern region of Punjab Province, Pakistan. Data from all functional NGOs registered with the Social Welfare and the Bait-ul-Maal Department, Punjab under the provisions of the Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961 were collected. A questionnaire based on basic information about NGOs, namely about membership, elections, services offered and opportunities for capacity building, was used for data collection. The results of the study identify education, health, and vocational and technical training as the three major areas of activity for NGOs in the Southern region. The study also found that NGOs do not have an adequate democratic process for elections. Women’s participation is less than men’s in general and in particular regarding membership of executive bodies. The core areas where gaps in capacity building were found are in governance and leadership, financial and human resource management, record maintenance and reporting. On the basis of the findings of this study, it is suggested that NGOs should extend their areas of operation and field of services, and that the democratic process could be ensured by concerned departments through proper monitoring and surveillance. Introduction Today, an important component of institutionalized volunteer efforts for marginalized segments of society is that of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). NGOs are not-for-profit, voluntary groups that have a public purpose, working for the collective interests of a specific group or sector (Kefis and Aspridis, 2014). Since time immemorial, NGOs have played a key role in various sectors, although the term NGO was not coined until the end of World War II. The first NGO–Anti-Slavery Society was formed in 1839. The Anti-Slavery Society was followed by the Red Cross and Caritas. Most NGOs emerged after World War I and II. Initially, NGOs were humanitarian in nature and played an important role in the development of society (Werker and Ahmed, 2008). Later, in the 1960s, the focus shifted from an exploration of the causes of poverty to its consequences. In the 1970 and 1980s, European NGOs performed mediating roles during and after the armed conflicts of Vietnam, Angola and Palestine (USAID, 2004). In the 21st century, the focus of NGOs has shifted again, this time from welfare activities to development. Now NGOs also monitor the role of the government in the developmental sector, especially in developing countries. The role and importance of NGOs in supporting social change and development has emerged clearly in recent years (Petric, 2005). NGOs have thus grown in importance and are making a major contribution to the development of various countries. High-income countries provide funding to NGOs to promote international development (OECD, 2006), and the international donors emphasize the importance of country-led development strategies, which include numerous actors in the public and private sectors, as well as civil society agents in the recipient country regarding the management of development activities (DANIDA, 2006; OECD, 2009; US Government, 2011; UNDP, 2012; USAID, 2012). Similarly, bilateral agencies such as USAID fund western NGOs to implement development programs in less developed countries (LDCs) and emphasize cost-effective implementation (USAID, 2004). Civil society/NGOs in Pakistan Volunteerism has ancient origins in the geographical area that is now Pakistan. The practice was based mainly on the teachings of the various religions that flourished in the region in different eras. The teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism provided a firm basis for their followers to cater to the needs of disadvantaged sections of society, and British Rule can be credited with institutionalizing the legacy of these voluntary efforts. However, the contribution of a number of social and political reform movements, such as Brahmo Samaj, Dyal Singh, Ali Garh, Sindh Hari and Khudai Khidmat Gar, cannot be ignored in this regard. Punjab University, Dyal Singh College, Lahore, D.J. College, Karachi, Mitha Ram Hospital, Karachi, MAO Colleges and Scientific Society, Sindh Madrassahtul Islam, Sindh Hari Committee, Islamia College Peshawar, institutions established by Anjuman-e-Hamayat-e-Islam and others, are some examples of institutionalized efforts amongst the long list of contributions to these socio-political movements (Iqbal, Khan and Javed, 2004). The concept of civil society or volunteerism for social causes goes back to the time of Independence, when large numbers of Muslims migrated to Pakistan from India and the government had no resources to support them. In this situation, many voluntary organizations were established to help the refugees. Most of these NGOs were set up and run by women (ADB, 1999). For the first few years of Pakistan, these NGOs worked to rehabilitate refugees. In the 1950 and 1960s, the major areas of operation of NGOs were health and education. In the 1970 and 1980s, a new set of NGOs was established that obtained funding from governments and international donors (ADB, 1999; Iqbal, Khan and Javed, 2004). NGOs in Pakistan can be registered under five laws: professional, cultural and educational bodies are registered under ‘The Societies Registration Act 1860’; the private activities of public charities are legalized by ‘The Trust Act 1882’; many NGOs are registered under the ‘Cooperative Societies Act 1952’; legal cover to NGOs undertaking welfare activities is provided under the Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance 1961; NGOs can set themselves up as non-profit companies under ‘The Companies Ordinance 1984’ (ADB, 1999). In the last decade, there has been a proliferation of civil society organizations in Pakistan, and these organizations have introduced new ways to strengthen the socio-economic development process for disadvantaged sections of society. Civil society has contributed through constructive social change. According to a survey conducted by the Government of Pakistan, National Council of Social Welfare, at the time of Independence there were only seven registered NGOs in Pakistan. In 2002 this number had reached 11,114, while the number of unregistered NGOs was recorded at more than 60,000 (Raheela, 2003). Today in Pakistan, NGOs lack credibility. Initially, people enter the NGO sector with high aims and objectives, but later on they often encounter difficulties (Raheela, 2003). In developed countries, NGOs have sufficient financial resources as they are run by rich individuals and supported by philanthropists. In Pakistan, individuals also contribute to the NGO sector, but this contribution does not meet the increasing needs of marginalized groups (ADB, 1999). Moreover, the democratic process is not deeply rooted in Pakistan. The country has been ruled by the military for almost half of its life. This affects the NGO sector, as donors often stop supporting non-democratic countries (Siddique and Ahmad, 2012). As a result, financial sustainability has become a major hurdle for the development of NGOs. Pakistan is one of the less developed countries of Asia. Although there has been a decline in the birth rate since the 1990s, the rate of population growth in Pakistan is still high, and Pakistan is the seventh most populous country in the world (State Bank of Pakistan, 2002). There is extreme poverty and political instability. In the last decade, there has been an increase in poverty: it was 30 percent, but now almost 40 percent of the country’s population is living below the poverty line (Azhar, 2013). Most of the economy of Pakistan is based on agriculture, but only 25 percent of the total arable land is under cultivation. There has also been a decrease in the contribution of agriculture to gross domestic product (GDP): it was 53 percent at the time of Independence but is now 26 percent (Meijerink and Roza, 2007). Although Punjab is a fairly well-developed province of Pakistan, the conditions are not too different from in Pakistan as a whole. Its economic growth has declined since 2004–2005. Economic growth in Punjab, which has remained at four percent for the last four years, is higher than that in other provinces but it does not meet the expected estimated growth of 6–7 percent. Regarding social indicators, the situation in Punjab is better than in any other province, but there is still great need (Government of the Punjab, The World Bank and DFID, 2013). Almost 56 percent of the population of the Punjab is poor. About 36% of this group resides in rural areas, which is the second highest percentage of rural poor among the provinces (Federal Bureau of Statistics, 2002, quoted in Chaudhry, 2009). In 2011, the literacy rate in the Punjab was recorded as 60 percent, as compared with 58 percent for the whole of Pakistan, and the child mortality rate was 81 per 1000 live births, which is higher than in any other province. Furthermore, only 24 percent of households have access to clean drinking water in the Punjab, as compared with 32 percent for the whole of Pakistan (Government of the Punjab, The World Bank and DFID, 2013). The situation in Southern Punjab is worse than in Central or Northern Punjab (Leghari, 2014). According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics (2002), almost 40 percent of the rural population of Southern Punjab is poor. Southern Punjab is usually ignored, not only at policy level but also regarding empirical inquiry, but it is facing many social, economic and developmental problems. Research published by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) explains the rapid population growth rate in Southern Punjab. The region is agrarian, but peasants are suffering because the owners residing in Central Punjab have handed over the land to their relatives, who can be bribed (William and Alam, undated). Rasul Bukhsh Rais (1997) has given an account of his experience, saying that in Southern Punjab, if you visit any town, including Multan, you will see eroded roads and leaking sewerage. This negligence can also be seen in the health sector. The present hospitals and doctors are not fulfilling the needs of an increasing number of patients (Leghari, 2014). The literacy rate is also very low, and beyond primary-level education, student enrollment is declining. In the Multan region, for example, 74 percent of girls and 65 percent of boys do not undertake study after primary level (Punjab Bureau of Statistics, 2010). In short, although the province has seen improvements in socio-economic indicators in the last decade, these are not satisfactory. The various socio-economic institutions are weak and are not capable of meeting the basic needs of the population (Government of the Punjab, The World Bank and DFID, 2013). The low literacy rate (UNICEF, 2013), lack of coherent political culture, and the lack of honesty and decency have made Pakistan a failure in the eyes of countries around the world (Tribune, 2011). Like other countries, the state provides for the various needs of the people of Pakistan, but there are shortcomings, and the state is not in a position to meet all the needs of all the people. As a consequence, NGOs that reach remote areas have emerged with the help of foreign funding (SPDC, 2002). According to the Canadian International Development Agency, as reported by SPDS in 2002, there are fewer than 100 effective NGOs in Pakistan that have clear objectives and an eye-catching agenda. Most NGOs have limited resources and work with narrow target groups. Furthermore, there are many issues relating to funds with NGOs, as there is no check-and-balance by state in this area and NGOs do not report regularly to government departments (SPDC, 2002). Most NGOs tend to focus on emergency relief, health and rehabilitation. Some have also contributed to income generation, micro-finance, poverty eradication, vocational and technical education, institutional care, child and women’s health, but their contribution in these areas is less than that in emergency relief. Some sectors, such as water, sanitation, irrigation, environmental issues, roads and urban development, have been considered to be under the remit of the government (ADB, 1999). Since 1961, the Social Welfare & Bait-ul-Maal (SW&BM) Department, Punjab, has registered a number of NGOs. After devolution of the powers of the Registration Authority at district level, the role of the Directorate General of SW&BM, Punjab transformed into the issuing of ‘no objection certificates’ (NOCs) to the registration authority at district level for the registration of NGOs. Because of the increased number of registration authorities all over the Punjab and the difficulties involved in collecting and updating information, only NOC granting status was updated in the computerized record of the Directorate. This practice created a lag for calculating the actual number of registered NGOs. Furthermore, the monitoring role was minimized. The Directorate was responsible for tracking the functioning of NGOs, the status of membership, the integrity of members, annual progress and the auditing of accounts in order to ensure the participation of communities in the development process through its registered NGOs, and for maintaining a mechanism that accounted for the monetary and non-monetary contributions of individuals to these NGOs. Unfortunately, this key function was weak, meaning that there are some common assumptions about the functionalities of NGOs. For example, it is thought that some people establish NGOs only to gain financial benefit in the form of funds from government and international donors or agencies, or that they register an NGO ‘for fun’ and after some time leave it to its fate. As a result, NGOs can become non-functional. There might be a variety of reasons for the non-functioning of NGOs, but this situation raises doubts about the functional status of NGOs. Therefore, it is very important to study the functional and operative capacity of NGOs. Significance of the study The present study is important because it aims not only to collect basic information regarding the registration status and services of NGOs but also to focus on those parameters by which the functioning of NGOs can be determined according to the provisions of The Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (R&C) Ordinance, 1961. Furthermore, the study aims to segregate functional and dysfunctional NGOs in order to gain a more accurate picture of the number of operational NGOs. It also aims to identify the nature of services offered by the NGOs and to facilitate the processing of information about disadvantaged sections of societies so that problems can be assessed and solved. The study also helps to identify the areas where the role of NGOs has been expanded to make necessary amendments to the available legal framework, and to ascertain whether NGOs have adopted democratic practices while making decisions and electing leaders. It further aims to identify the issues that hamper the smooth functioning of NGOs and to explore the areas where the capacity of these NGOs can be increased in order to facilitate improvement in the standard of services of NGOs. Finally, the study provides recommendations to guide policy and operational interventions and helps to highlight issues in operational capacity in developing countries. Objectives of the study This study is an attempt to: explore the operative capacity of NGOs in terms of their functional status (male/female membership, elections, fields and types of services and clients); identify the capacity gaps hampering the smooth functioning of NGOs in the region of Southern Punjab; identify the views of registration authorities regarding membership, services and record maintenance of NGOs. Method and procedure The objective of this research is to discover the operational capacity of NGOs in the province of Punjab, where ‘Operational Capacity is the ability of a non-profit organization to implement key organizational and programmatic functions’ (WNC, Non-profit pathways, undated). In this study, operative capacity is measured in terms of the functional status of NGOs, including membership,1 elections,2 fields of services and clients. This descriptive study deployed a quantitative method of research. The scope of the present study is the province of Punjab. This province has three main administrative regions, namely Southern, Northern and Central. There are a total 36 of districts in the province, out of which 11 are in Southern Punjab, eight are in Northern Punjab, and the remaining 17 are part of Central Punjab. The selection of which population to study was carried out in multiple phases. In the first stage, Southern Punjab was selected as a target region, because this region is often described as underprivileged and as having a poor socio-economic status as compared with other areas of Punjab. As noted, there are 11 districts in Southern Punjab, and all of these are considered in this study. The main districts of the region are Bahawalpur, Multan, Rahimyar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalnagar, Rajanpur, Layyah, Lodhran, Muzaffargarh, Vehari and Rajunpur. In the second phase, a list of all the national NGOs registered with the SW&BM Department, Punjab under the provisions of the Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961 was obtained. A total of 7516 NGOs are registered in Punjab, of which about 1942 are registered in Southern Punjab. In the third phase, sub-clusters were made on the basis of the functional, partially functional and non-functional status of NGOs. Out of the 1942 NGOs, 997 are functional, 181 are partially functional and 764 are non-functional. As the purpose of this research is to ascertain the operational capacity of NGOs, all functional NGOs of the 11 districts of Southern region were selected. Partially functional NGOs were excluded owing to incomplete information. Once the list of functional NGOs per region was prepared, district officers, who are the registration authority in their respective districts, were approached. Formal permission was obtained in order to enable access to NGOs and their statistics. A questionnaire was used as the tool for data collection. Data collection was also carried out in three phases. In the first phase, district officers (registration authority) were approached and information about the name, address and telephone number of NGOs was obtained. In the second phase, each NGO was approached individually and a representative of the NGO was requested to provide information. In the third phase, the registration authority was asked to give their assessment regarding the membership, record and services of the NGO, as well as recommendations. The time span for data collection was two months, namely October–November 2015. In each district, two field staff were assigned for data collection. Before collection of data, field staff were provided with formal training in which they were briefed about the purpose of study and the questionnaire. Once the data were collected, information was cross-checked through the registration authority for the functionality of NGOs. After collection, data were entered in SPSS and descriptive statistics were used to interpret the data. Results Table 1 represents the year-wise registration trend of NGOs. Data in the able show that the highest percentages of NGOs were registered during the years 2001–2010. During the period 1991–2000, 18 percent of NGOs were registered. Compared with these years, in previous decades the number of registration of NGOs was lower, namely 11 and 12 percent. The trend of NGOs registration declined again in the period 2010–2014, with 16 percent of NGOs registered. Table 1 Year-wise registration trend of NGOs Years  Frequency  Percentage  1961–1970  12  1  1971–1980  123  12  1981–1990  105  11  1991–2000  174  18  2001–2010  413  41  2010–2014  161  16  No information  9  1  Total  997  100  Years  Frequency  Percentage  1961–1970  12  1  1971–1980  123  12  1981–1990  105  11  1991–2000  174  18  2001–2010  413  41  2010–2014  161  16  No information  9  1  Total  997  100  Table 1 Year-wise registration trend of NGOs Years  Frequency  Percentage  1961–1970  12  1  1971–1980  123  12  1981–1990  105  11  1991–2000  174  18  2001–2010  413  41  2010–2014  161  16  No information  9  1  Total  997  100  Years  Frequency  Percentage  1961–1970  12  1  1971–1980  123  12  1981–1990  105  11  1991–2000  174  18  2001–2010  413  41  2010–2014  161  16  No information  9  1  Total  997  100  Table 2 details the membership of NGOs on the basis of gender. The data show that 67 percent of registered NGOs are ordinary members, 20 percent are executive body members, eight percent are life-time members and four percent are honorary members. Out of the total of ordinary members, 72 percent are male and 28 percent are female. For executive members, 79 percent are male and for 21 percent are female. For life-time and honorary members, 67 percent are male and 33 percent are female. The statistics represented in the Table show that, in Southern Punjab, more than 70 percent of membership is male, and female participation in terms of NGO membership is low, being on average 20–25 percent. Table 2 Total number of members of NGOs by type and gender Type of membership  Ordinary members  Executive body member  Life-time members  Honorary members  Other  Total  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F    21,566  8270  7127  1929  2354  1183  1177  567  229  69  44,471  72  28  79  21  67  33  67  33  77  23  100  Type of membership  Ordinary members  Executive body member  Life-time members  Honorary members  Other  Total  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F    21,566  8270  7127  1929  2354  1183  1177  567  229  69  44,471  72  28  79  21  67  33  67  33  77  23  100  Table 2 Total number of members of NGOs by type and gender Type of membership  Ordinary members  Executive body member  Life-time members  Honorary members  Other  Total  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F    21,566  8270  7127  1929  2354  1183  1177  567  229  69  44,471  72  28  79  21  67  33  67  33  77  23  100  Type of membership  Ordinary members  Executive body member  Life-time members  Honorary members  Other  Total  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F    21,566  8270  7127  1929  2354  1183  1177  567  229  69  44,471  72  28  79  21  67  33  67  33  77  23  100  Table 3 details the frequency of elections conducted by NGOs. Data show that the tenure of election for the majority of NGOs (52 percent) is two years, and the second highest figure (31 percent) is found for 3-year tenures. six percent of NGOs conduct elections every year, and the rest conduct elections every 4–5 years. About 0.4 percent of NGOs conduct elections every six years or more. This range shows a lack of transparency in the democratic process and inefficiency on the part of the registration authority as well as in NGO executive bodies. Table 3 Frequency of conducting elections of the executive body in NGOs Tenure of election  Frequency  Percentage  1 year  63  6  2 years  516  52  3 years  306  31  4 years  4  0.4  5 years  13  1.2  6 years and above  4  0.4  No information provided  91  9  Total  997  100  Tenure of election  Frequency  Percentage  1 year  63  6  2 years  516  52  3 years  306  31  4 years  4  0.4  5 years  13  1.2  6 years and above  4  0.4  No information provided  91  9  Total  997  100  Table 3 Frequency of conducting elections of the executive body in NGOs Tenure of election  Frequency  Percentage  1 year  63  6  2 years  516  52  3 years  306  31  4 years  4  0.4  5 years  13  1.2  6 years and above  4  0.4  No information provided  91  9  Total  997  100  Tenure of election  Frequency  Percentage  1 year  63  6  2 years  516  52  3 years  306  31  4 years  4  0.4  5 years  13  1.2  6 years and above  4  0.4  No information provided  91  9  Total  997  100  Table 4 details the field of service of functional NGOs. The highest number of services (11 percent) is in the field of women’s welfare. The second highest fields of service are child and youth welfare (9 percent for each). About 7 percent of NGOs report co-ordination with social welfare agencies as the main field in which they provide services. Both rehabilitation and the welfare of patients and training in social work have a six percent representation. Social education and recreational activities both have a five percent contribution in the fields of service of NGOs: the basic purpose of both activities is to keep people from anti-social behavior at the public level. The welfare of the disabled and family planning services are each provided by three percent of NGOs. Services related to the welfare and rehabilitation of released prisoners, of juvenile delinquents, of the socially handicapped, and of beggars and the destitute each account for two percent of the services provided by NGOs. About 25 percent of services are found in other categories, in which multiple fields were reported by respondents regarding the services they provide. Table 4 Frequency distribution of NGOs as per field of service Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  1  Child welfare  764  9  9  Welfare of juvenile delinquents  130  2  2  Youth welfare  769  9  10  Welfare of the socially handicapped  183  2  3  Women’s welfare  894  11  11  Welfare of beggars and the destitute  182  2  4  Welfare of disabled  280  3  12  Welfare and rehabilitation of patients  514  6  5  Family planning  258  3  13  Welfare of the aged and infirm  225  3  6  Recreational programmes  392  5  14  Training in social work  434  6  7  Social education  393  5  15  Co-ordination of social welfare agencies  576  7  8  Welfare and rehabilitation of released prisoners  137  2  16  Others  1994  25            Total  8125  100  Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  1  Child welfare  764  9  9  Welfare of juvenile delinquents  130  2  2  Youth welfare  769  9  10  Welfare of the socially handicapped  183  2  3  Women’s welfare  894  11  11  Welfare of beggars and the destitute  182  2  4  Welfare of disabled  280  3  12  Welfare and rehabilitation of patients  514  6  5  Family planning  258  3  13  Welfare of the aged and infirm  225  3  6  Recreational programmes  392  5  14  Training in social work  434  6  7  Social education  393  5  15  Co-ordination of social welfare agencies  576  7  8  Welfare and rehabilitation of released prisoners  137  2  16  Others  1994  25            Total  8125  100  Note: An NGO can adopt more than one field of service when approving their constitution. The figures presented in the able reflect multiple responses. Table 4 Frequency distribution of NGOs as per field of service Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  1  Child welfare  764  9  9  Welfare of juvenile delinquents  130  2  2  Youth welfare  769  9  10  Welfare of the socially handicapped  183  2  3  Women’s welfare  894  11  11  Welfare of beggars and the destitute  182  2  4  Welfare of disabled  280  3  12  Welfare and rehabilitation of patients  514  6  5  Family planning  258  3  13  Welfare of the aged and infirm  225  3  6  Recreational programmes  392  5  14  Training in social work  434  6  7  Social education  393  5  15  Co-ordination of social welfare agencies  576  7  8  Welfare and rehabilitation of released prisoners  137  2  16  Others  1994  25            Total  8125  100  Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  1  Child welfare  764  9  9  Welfare of juvenile delinquents  130  2  2  Youth welfare  769  9  10  Welfare of the socially handicapped  183  2  3  Women’s welfare  894  11  11  Welfare of beggars and the destitute  182  2  4  Welfare of disabled  280  3  12  Welfare and rehabilitation of patients  514  6  5  Family planning  258  3  13  Welfare of the aged and infirm  225  3  6  Recreational programmes  392  5  14  Training in social work  434  6  7  Social education  393  5  15  Co-ordination of social welfare agencies  576  7  8  Welfare and rehabilitation of released prisoners  137  2  16  Others  1994  25            Total  8125  100  Note: An NGO can adopt more than one field of service when approving their constitution. The figures presented in the able reflect multiple responses. In Table 5, NGOs are categorized as per the service sector provided in the various districts of Southern Punjab. NGOs are categorized under the main categories, keeping in mind similar areas and scope of services. The table shows that the highest percentage (33 percent) of NGOs provide services in the health sector in this region. The second highest type of services (16 percent) relate to vocational and technical training. About eight percent of NGOs provide formal educational and emergency response services in the districts of Southern Punjab. In the non-formal sector of education, this figure is similar, at seven percent. About six percent of NGOs work for environmental improvement. Economic assistance is provided by five percent of NGOs. Four percent of the NGOs create awareness regarding various social issues. Family planning services are provided by two percent of NGOs. Services for the disabled, aged, legal aid and religion each account for one percent of the reported NGO involvement. The lowest percentage (0.2 percent) is found for community and neighborhood development. Table 5 Frequency distribution of NGOs as per service sector Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  1  Health sector  1486  33  10  Environment  264  6  2  Formal education  351  8  11  Drug rehabilitation  17  0.3  3  Non-formal education  293  7  12  Community & neighborhood development  7  0.2  4  Vocational training  733  16  13  Awareness raising  201  4  5  Services for disabled  43  1  14  Religion  64  1  6  Family planning  79  2  15  Sports  57  1.2  7  Economic assistance  218  5  16  Legal aid  42  1  8  Aging  43  1  17  Others  255  5.6  9  Emergency situation handling  353  8  Total  4506  100  Total  Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  1  Health sector  1486  33  10  Environment  264  6  2  Formal education  351  8  11  Drug rehabilitation  17  0.3  3  Non-formal education  293  7  12  Community & neighborhood development  7  0.2  4  Vocational training  733  16  13  Awareness raising  201  4  5  Services for disabled  43  1  14  Religion  64  1  6  Family planning  79  2  15  Sports  57  1.2  7  Economic assistance  218  5  16  Legal aid  42  1  8  Aging  43  1  17  Others  255  5.6  9  Emergency situation handling  353  8  Total  4506  100  Total  Table 5 Frequency distribution of NGOs as per service sector Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  1  Health sector  1486  33  10  Environment  264  6  2  Formal education  351  8  11  Drug rehabilitation  17  0.3  3  Non-formal education  293  7  12  Community & neighborhood development  7  0.2  4  Vocational training  733  16  13  Awareness raising  201  4  5  Services for disabled  43  1  14  Religion  64  1  6  Family planning  79  2  15  Sports  57  1.2  7  Economic assistance  218  5  16  Legal aid  42  1  8  Aging  43  1  17  Others  255  5.6  9  Emergency situation handling  353  8  Total  4506  100  Total  Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  1  Health sector  1486  33  10  Environment  264  6  2  Formal education  351  8  11  Drug rehabilitation  17  0.3  3  Non-formal education  293  7  12  Community & neighborhood development  7  0.2  4  Vocational training  733  16  13  Awareness raising  201  4  5  Services for disabled  43  1  14  Religion  64  1  6  Family planning  79  2  15  Sports  57  1.2  7  Economic assistance  218  5  16  Legal aid  42  1  8  Aging  43  1  17  Others  255  5.6  9  Emergency situation handling  353  8  Total  4506  100  Total  Table 6 represents the number of clients of NGOs in millions by year. The highest number of clients is found in the health sector (1.938 million), and the second highest number is in vocational and technical training (1.199 million). In the health sector, the highest number of clients (0.734 million) occurred in 2013. Regarding formal education, the number of clients was also higher in 2013 than in previous years. In vocational and technical training, the highest number of clients (0.602 million) occurred in 2011. The most services for poverty alleviation/financial assistance were provided in 2013 (0.191 million). Regarding emergency /humanitarian response services, the highest number of clients is found in 2012: one reason for this could be that these areas experienced severe floods in that year. Regarding environment and resource conservation, the number of clients was greatest in 2013. Overall, a year-wise increasing trend in terms of clients can be seen. In 2011, the number of clients in all fields was 1.981 million; this number increased to 2.167 million in 2012 and remained almost the same in 2013, at 2.093 million. Table 6 NGO clients as per service sector (2011–2013), in millions Service sector  Clients  Total  Service sector  Clients  Total  2011  2012  2013  2011  2012  2013  Health  0.544  0.661  0.734  1.938  Drug rehabilitation  0.001  0.001  0.001  0.004  Formal education  0.161  0.168  0.239  0.569  Community & neighborhood development  0.04  0.45  0.056  0.547  Non-formal education  0.031  0.022  0.023  0.075  Awareness raising  0.104  0.087  0.12  0.31  Vocational services  0.602  0.267  0.33  1.199  Religious education  0.011  0.012  0.013  0.036  Disability services  0.037  0.004  0.006  0.047  Environment  0.131  0.129  0.143  0.403  Family planning  0.002  0.002  0.004  0.008  Sports  0.005  0.017  0.02  0.042  Economic assistance  0.141  0.171  0.191  0.503  Legal aid  0.016  0.018  0.025  0.06  Aging  0  0  0  0  Others  0.115  0.136  0.171  0.421  Emergency situation handling  0.04  0.021  0.018  0.08  Grand total  1.981  2.167  2.093  6.241  Service sector  Clients  Total  Service sector  Clients  Total  2011  2012  2013  2011  2012  2013  Health  0.544  0.661  0.734  1.938  Drug rehabilitation  0.001  0.001  0.001  0.004  Formal education  0.161  0.168  0.239  0.569  Community & neighborhood development  0.04  0.45  0.056  0.547  Non-formal education  0.031  0.022  0.023  0.075  Awareness raising  0.104  0.087  0.12  0.31  Vocational services  0.602  0.267  0.33  1.199  Religious education  0.011  0.012  0.013  0.036  Disability services  0.037  0.004  0.006  0.047  Environment  0.131  0.129  0.143  0.403  Family planning  0.002  0.002  0.004  0.008  Sports  0.005  0.017  0.02  0.042  Economic assistance  0.141  0.171  0.191  0.503  Legal aid  0.016  0.018  0.025  0.06  Aging  0  0  0  0  Others  0.115  0.136  0.171  0.421  Emergency situation handling  0.04  0.021  0.018  0.08  Grand total  1.981  2.167  2.093  6.241  Table 6 NGO clients as per service sector (2011–2013), in millions Service sector  Clients  Total  Service sector  Clients  Total  2011  2012  2013  2011  2012  2013  Health  0.544  0.661  0.734  1.938  Drug rehabilitation  0.001  0.001  0.001  0.004  Formal education  0.161  0.168  0.239  0.569  Community & neighborhood development  0.04  0.45  0.056  0.547  Non-formal education  0.031  0.022  0.023  0.075  Awareness raising  0.104  0.087  0.12  0.31  Vocational services  0.602  0.267  0.33  1.199  Religious education  0.011  0.012  0.013  0.036  Disability services  0.037  0.004  0.006  0.047  Environment  0.131  0.129  0.143  0.403  Family planning  0.002  0.002  0.004  0.008  Sports  0.005  0.017  0.02  0.042  Economic assistance  0.141  0.171  0.191  0.503  Legal aid  0.016  0.018  0.025  0.06  Aging  0  0  0  0  Others  0.115  0.136  0.171  0.421  Emergency situation handling  0.04  0.021  0.018  0.08  Grand total  1.981  2.167  2.093  6.241  Service sector  Clients  Total  Service sector  Clients  Total  2011  2012  2013  2011  2012  2013  Health  0.544  0.661  0.734  1.938  Drug rehabilitation  0.001  0.001  0.001  0.004  Formal education  0.161  0.168  0.239  0.569  Community & neighborhood development  0.04  0.45  0.056  0.547  Non-formal education  0.031  0.022  0.023  0.075  Awareness raising  0.104  0.087  0.12  0.31  Vocational services  0.602  0.267  0.33  1.199  Religious education  0.011  0.012  0.013  0.036  Disability services  0.037  0.004  0.006  0.047  Environment  0.131  0.129  0.143  0.403  Family planning  0.002  0.002  0.004  0.008  Sports  0.005  0.017  0.02  0.042  Economic assistance  0.141  0.171  0.191  0.503  Legal aid  0.016  0.018  0.025  0.06  Aging  0  0  0  0  Others  0.115  0.136  0.171  0.421  Emergency situation handling  0.04  0.021  0.018  0.08  Grand total  1.981  2.167  2.093  6.241  Table 7 considers the areas identified by the registration authority/district officers/respondents where NGOs need to build capacity. The data show that the highest number of respondents identified ‘disaster risk management’ and ‘emergency response’ as the main area for improvement. One plausible reason for this response is that the floods of 2012 severely affected these districts and the emergency response was poor at that time. The second major area of improvement identified is the record keeping of NGOs (17 percent). The third major areas identified by respondents are training in ‘organizational governance’ (15.3 percent) and ‘financial and project management skills’ (15.4 percent) for workers. Table 7 Identified constraints in the operative capacity of NGOs Ser. no.  Area of improvement  Areas  Number of NGOs  Percentage  1  Governance and leadership  604  15.3  2  Planning and management of finance  611  15.4  3  Record maintenance  670  17  4  Human resource management  144  3.6  6  Publicity and fund raising  816  21  7  Disaster risk management  736  18.6  8  Report making  273  7  9  Others  90  2.1  Total  3944  100  Ser. no.  Area of improvement  Areas  Number of NGOs  Percentage  1  Governance and leadership  604  15.3  2  Planning and management of finance  611  15.4  3  Record maintenance  670  17  4  Human resource management  144  3.6  6  Publicity and fund raising  816  21  7  Disaster risk management  736  18.6  8  Report making  273  7  9  Others  90  2.1  Total  3944  100  Table 7 Identified constraints in the operative capacity of NGOs Ser. no.  Area of improvement  Areas  Number of NGOs  Percentage  1  Governance and leadership  604  15.3  2  Planning and management of finance  611  15.4  3  Record maintenance  670  17  4  Human resource management  144  3.6  6  Publicity and fund raising  816  21  7  Disaster risk management  736  18.6  8  Report making  273  7  9  Others  90  2.1  Total  3944  100  Ser. no.  Area of improvement  Areas  Number of NGOs  Percentage  1  Governance and leadership  604  15.3  2  Planning and management of finance  611  15.4  3  Record maintenance  670  17  4  Human resource management  144  3.6  6  Publicity and fund raising  816  21  7  Disaster risk management  736  18.6  8  Report making  273  7  9  Others  90  2.1  Total  3944  100  Table 8 provides the rating of NGOs in terms of membership, services and record keeping as given by district officers (registration authority). The data show that 66 percent of respondents rate NGOs as good in terms of membership, and 33 percent rate them as satisfactory. For services of NGOs, the rating remains almost the same, with 66 percent of NGOs graded good in this sector as well. With reference to the record keeping of NGOs, 54.4 percent are graded as good and 44.4 percent are graded as satisfactory. Table 8 Area/district officer response on quality of membership, record keeping and services of NGOs Scale  Membership/Members of NGOs  Services of NGOs  Record maintenance    Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Good  530  66  530  66  435  54.4  Satisfactory  269  33  263  32.6  358  44.4  Poor  7  0.7  11  1.4  13  1.6  No response  03  0.3  0  0  0  0  Scale  Membership/Members of NGOs  Services of NGOs  Record maintenance    Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Good  530  66  530  66  435  54.4  Satisfactory  269  33  263  32.6  358  44.4  Poor  7  0.7  11  1.4  13  1.6  No response  03  0.3  0  0  0  0  Table 8 Area/district officer response on quality of membership, record keeping and services of NGOs Scale  Membership/Members of NGOs  Services of NGOs  Record maintenance    Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Good  530  66  530  66  435  54.4  Satisfactory  269  33  263  32.6  358  44.4  Poor  7  0.7  11  1.4  13  1.6  No response  03  0.3  0  0  0  0  Scale  Membership/Members of NGOs  Services of NGOs  Record maintenance    Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Good  530  66  530  66  435  54.4  Satisfactory  269  33  263  32.6  358  44.4  Poor  7  0.7  11  1.4  13  1.6  No response  03  0.3  0  0  0  0  Discussion How do NGOs work? What is the operational capacity of NGOs? What is the functional status of NGOs? These are some of the specific questions that come to mind when discussing the work of NGOs in developing countries such as Pakistan. In developing countries, it has almost become a truism that NGOs are charitable organizations that exist to make money. In this regard, it is also the case that many misconceptions regarding the role of NGOs in public sector development are found that raise doubts about the functionality of these organizations. Although the functionality of NGOs is in doubt, however, one cannot deny the positive and constructive role that these organizations perform in development in remote areas (Werker and Ahmed, 2008). Unfortunately, in Pakistan there are no well-documented facts that can provide base-line information regarding the functional status of NGOs, the services they provide, their scope with reference to clients, and areas for improvement. This study is therefore an attempt to explore the operative capacity of NGOs in Southern Punjab, a region of Punjab Province that is often categorized as unprivileged. Previous research regarding the socio-economic development of the region is alarming in that it identifies low literacy, poor health and problems with infrastructure in this Southern belt (Rais, 1997; International Fund for Agriculture Development, 2001; Federal Bureau of Statistics, 2002; Leghari, 2014). This study, by focusing on the operative capacity of NGOs, intends to identify the role of NGOs in solving these issues as well as focusing on possible areas for improvement in the region. As far as the functionality of NGOs is concerned, the data reveal that the majority of registered NGOs are functional in this region and very few are not operating. This result is contrary to previous findings (SPDC, 2002) that claim that only a few NGOs are operating and the rest are dormant. The registration trend of NGOs shows that the highest frequency of registration occurred in 2001–2010, and most NGOs are operating in their respective fields in the region. One important area of concern for NGOs is membership. The study reveals that in the NGO sector, membership is vested in men and very few female representatives are found in NGOs in the region. One reason for this could be the existence of strong Purdah norms in the region that restrict women’s open mobility and active participation specifically in the NGO sector (Hashemi, Schuler and Riley, 1996). Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961 registers NGOs that have executive and general body members. At district level, a minimum of 20 members are required, and at provincial level this number reaches 500. Members may include life-time members, ordinary members, and honorary members, but only ordinary and life-time members have the right to vote. (Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961). Data show that 67 percent of members of the registered NGOs are ordinary members, 20 percent are executive body members, eight percent are life-time members, and four percent are honorary members. The tenure of election of the executive body is 2–3 years. This trend of election of the executive body demonstrates the less democratic behavior of NGOs, which leads to a lack of transparency in these organizations. It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan herself lacks democracy. As part of this discussion, we can say that a non-democratic state may have effects on the democratic values of institutions and organizations. NGOs perform functions in various fields of service, including health, education, youth and women’s welfare, family planning and juvenile rehabilitation. The statistics gathered here show that in the Southern region of Punjab Province, the preferred fields of services of NGOs are child, youth and women’s welfare. In this respect, the results of this study are consistent with the Asian Development Bank (ADB (1999)) report, which states that the NGO core areas for providing relief are children and women’s welfare. In the services sector, it is found that the highest percentage (33 percent) of NGOs are providing services in the health sector in this region, and the second highest area is vocational training and technical education. These findings again support the study of ADB, in which poverty eradication, vocational and technical education, institutional care, child and women’s health are identified as the main service sector of NGOs in the region (ADB, 1999). Similarly, the highest number of clients is found in the health sector (1.938 million) and in vocational and technical training (1.199 million). One of the objectives of this study was to discover areas for improvement for NGOs, specifically with a focus on capacity building, and indeed the response of area officer/district officers (Registration Authority) reveals that the majority believe that the functionality of NGOs should be improved. In particular, respondents identify governance and leadership, financial and human resource management, record maintenance, reporting and disaster risk management as key areas where interventions are required. Similar areas were identified by SPDC (2002), which focuses on the pressing need to build the capacity of NGOs, gives recommendations for the development of organizational behavior in the NGO sector and also recommends that people in leadership and in operations should be adequately educated and trained so that they can perform their leadership tasks successfully. The continuous monitoring and assessment of functionaries is very important, as this guides the authorities in setting out guidelines for NGOs. In this context, membership and services are rated good for about half of the NGOs we investigated, whereas record maintenance needs improvement. Furthermore, proper auditing and democratic processes for election are also required in order to ensure quality services (Raheela, 2003). This will ensure that NGOs perform their tasks according to principles found in the law (Borgh and Terwindt, 2012). Conclusion This descriptive study, based on a data analysis of 997 NGOs working in the region of Southern Punjab, concludes that the majority of the NGOs registered under the Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance 1961 are functional. Education, health, and vocational and technical training are the three core areas of service, while the remaining areas such as the welfare of older people, people who are disabled, beggars, prisoners and juveniles are relatively neglected by NGOs. The membership of NGOs does not reflect an equal representation of men and women. Women’s representation is less than one-third of the total membership. The executive bodies of NGOs, wherein the decision-making largely lies, show very discouraging figures regarding the representation of women. Furthermore, the frequency of meetings of executive bodies of NGOs does not fulfil constitutional requirements. In fact, only one-third of NGOs follow constitutional requirements. This behavior shows a lack of decision-making through participatory processes in NGOs. The frequency of meetings of general bodies of NGOs is better than that of executive bodies. In addition, although most NGOs provide services in the health and education sector and to women and children, it is not clear how they achieve their objectives. The large number of NGOs reflects the need for capacity-building. Planning and financial management, project development and management and record keeping are some of areas identified. Most NGOs are rated good or satisfactory by district and area officers in terms of membership, services and record maintenance. The key areas that require improvement are governance and leadership, financial and human resource management, record maintenance, and reporting. This study is limited to a quantitative analysis, but future studies may adopt a qualitative methodology and obtain information from the registration authority, members of NGOs, and clients. Furthermore, his study targets only the Southern region of Punjab Province, but future research may consider the Central and Northern regions so that a comparative picture regarding the functionality of NGOs can be obtained. This study is also limited to national NGOs registered under the Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961; other international NGOs and NGOs registered under other authorities may also be considered in future research. Moreover, a relationship between the non-democratic structure of Pakistan and the non-democratic values of organizations in general and of NGOs in particular may be identified in the future. Recommendations On the basis of the findings of our study, the following recommendations can be made for guiding policy and operational interventions. Because the majority of NGO members are currently men, registration authorities need to specify the required level of representation of women in executive and general bodies in order to ensure female participation and organizational democracy. Because the tenure of elections varies across the NGOs of the region, proper monitoring by area/district officers is required. NGOs should extend their area and field of services beyond child, youth and women’s welfare, health and education to peasant welfare and also to the improvement of the developmental sector in the region. They should also move from welfare to sustainable development. In light of the trend of the non-functioning of large numbers of NGOs, a department should be established with the responsibility to develop monitoring and capacity-building in order to sustain the existence of voluntary organizations. The key areas of capacity-building have been identified in this study. NGOs, through co-ordination with district officers in the Social Welfare Department, need to plan capacity-building workshops for members bi-annually or annually so that these gaps may be filled. Footnotes 1 According to Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration & Control) Ordinance, 1961, the minimum number of members required for registration of an NGO at local and district level is 20 and at provincial level it is 500 members. Every male or female (mentally stable, over 18 years of age, of good moral character) can become the member. They can have ordinary membership, life membership, honorary membership or patron. 2 Here elections mean elections of the executive body, within which members can be selected or changed. Only ordinary and life-time members have the right to vote and contest elections. References ADB. ( 1999) A study of NGOs in Pakistan, accessed at: http://www.transparencywatchorganization.com/images/A%20Study%20of%20NGO%27s%20in%20Pakistan.pdf (15 June 2016). Azhar, A. ( 2013) Institute of Management Sciences. Peshawar, accessed at: http://www.chitraltimes.com/english13/newseng214.htm (28 April 2015). Borgh, C. and Terwindt, C. ( 2012) Shrinking operational space of NGOs – a framework of analysis, Development in Practice , 22 ( 8), 1065– 1081. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Chaudhry, I. S. ( 2009) The impact of socioeconomic and demographic variables on poverty: a village study, Lahore Journal of Economics , 14 ( 1), 39– 68. DANIDA ( 2006) Guidance Note on Danish Support for Capacity Development , Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Copenhagen. Express Tribune. ( 2011) ‘Pakistan ranks 12th on failed states index’, accessed at http://tribune.com.pk/story/193321/pakistan-ranks-12th-on-failed-statesindex-report/ (15 June 2016). Federal Bureau of Statistics. ( 2002) ‘Poverty in the 1990s’, PIHS, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad. Government of Punjab. ( 2013) ‘The World Bank and Department for Internal Development. 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( 2003) ‘Emergence of third sector in Pakistan’, Proceedings from the Conference on State of Social Sciences and Humanities: Current Scenario and Emerging Trends, organized by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Islamabad. p. 88. Rais, R. B., ed. ( 1997) State, Society, and Democratic Change in Pakistan , Oxford University Press, USA. Siddique, M. H. and Ahmad, M. M. ( 2012) Variables affecting fieldworkers of NGOs in Pakistan, Development in Practice , 22 ( 2), 216– 228. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   SPDC. ( 2002) Nonprofit Sector in Pakistan: Government Policy and Future Issues, SPDC Working Paper No. 2, Social Policy and Development Centre, Karachi. State Bank of Pakistan. ( 2002) Annual Report, accessed at http://www.sbp.org.pk/Reports/Annual/arFY02/chap11.pdf (15 June 2016). UNDP (United Nations Development Program). ( 2012) ‘Empowered Lives, Resilient Nations’: High-level Meeting on ‘Towards Country-led Knowledge Hubs’. United Nations Development Program (UNDP), New York. UNICEF. ( 2013) Statistics, accessed at: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/pakistan_pakistan_statistics.html (15 June 2016). US Government ( 2011) Post-Earthquake U.S. Government Haiti Strategy: Toward Renewal and Economic Opportunity , US Department of State, Washington DC. USAID (United States Agency for International Development) ( 2004) Compliance: Tips for Implementing USAID Partners , United States Agency for International Development, Washington DC. USAID (United States Agency for International Development) ( 2012) U.S. Government Interagency Paper on Country Ownership , United States Agency for International Development, Washington DC. Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration & Control) Ordinance. ( 1961), accessed at: http://www.punjabcode.punjab.gov.pk/index/showarticle/ref/8e4fc1f1-5bbc-4080-a7a4-b5e629560621 (10 June 2016). Werker, E. and Ahmed, F. Z. ( 2008) What do nongovernmental organizations do? The Journal of Economic Perspectives , 22 ( 2), 73– 92. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   William, J. and Alam, E. (n.d) Radicalization of Youth in Southern Punjab. Formation Awareness and Community Empowerment Society Pakistan.  WNC, Non-profit pathways. (n.d) Accessed at: http://nonprofitpathways.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/FourCoreCapacities.pdf (10 June 2016). Author notes Sadia Jabeen has been a lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Virtual University of Pakistan since 2011. She holds an M.Phil. in social sciences from the University of the Punjab, Lahore. She has a special interest in the sociology of learning, community development and gender issues in her field of research. Nighat Yasmin holds an M.Phil. in sociology. She has been working as research officer in social welfare and at the Bait-ul-Maal Department, Punjab. Her areas of interest in the field of research are sociological issues in general, and the rights of women and children and the sociology of organization in particular. © Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2018 All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Community Development Journal Oxford University Press

An analysis of the operative capacity of non-governmental organizations in the Southern region of Punjab Province, Pakistan

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© Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2018 All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com
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Abstract

Abstract This study explores the operative capacity of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the Southern region of Punjab Province, Pakistan. Data from all functional NGOs registered with the Social Welfare and the Bait-ul-Maal Department, Punjab under the provisions of the Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961 were collected. A questionnaire based on basic information about NGOs, namely about membership, elections, services offered and opportunities for capacity building, was used for data collection. The results of the study identify education, health, and vocational and technical training as the three major areas of activity for NGOs in the Southern region. The study also found that NGOs do not have an adequate democratic process for elections. Women’s participation is less than men’s in general and in particular regarding membership of executive bodies. The core areas where gaps in capacity building were found are in governance and leadership, financial and human resource management, record maintenance and reporting. On the basis of the findings of this study, it is suggested that NGOs should extend their areas of operation and field of services, and that the democratic process could be ensured by concerned departments through proper monitoring and surveillance. Introduction Today, an important component of institutionalized volunteer efforts for marginalized segments of society is that of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). NGOs are not-for-profit, voluntary groups that have a public purpose, working for the collective interests of a specific group or sector (Kefis and Aspridis, 2014). Since time immemorial, NGOs have played a key role in various sectors, although the term NGO was not coined until the end of World War II. The first NGO–Anti-Slavery Society was formed in 1839. The Anti-Slavery Society was followed by the Red Cross and Caritas. Most NGOs emerged after World War I and II. Initially, NGOs were humanitarian in nature and played an important role in the development of society (Werker and Ahmed, 2008). Later, in the 1960s, the focus shifted from an exploration of the causes of poverty to its consequences. In the 1970 and 1980s, European NGOs performed mediating roles during and after the armed conflicts of Vietnam, Angola and Palestine (USAID, 2004). In the 21st century, the focus of NGOs has shifted again, this time from welfare activities to development. Now NGOs also monitor the role of the government in the developmental sector, especially in developing countries. The role and importance of NGOs in supporting social change and development has emerged clearly in recent years (Petric, 2005). NGOs have thus grown in importance and are making a major contribution to the development of various countries. High-income countries provide funding to NGOs to promote international development (OECD, 2006), and the international donors emphasize the importance of country-led development strategies, which include numerous actors in the public and private sectors, as well as civil society agents in the recipient country regarding the management of development activities (DANIDA, 2006; OECD, 2009; US Government, 2011; UNDP, 2012; USAID, 2012). Similarly, bilateral agencies such as USAID fund western NGOs to implement development programs in less developed countries (LDCs) and emphasize cost-effective implementation (USAID, 2004). Civil society/NGOs in Pakistan Volunteerism has ancient origins in the geographical area that is now Pakistan. The practice was based mainly on the teachings of the various religions that flourished in the region in different eras. The teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism provided a firm basis for their followers to cater to the needs of disadvantaged sections of society, and British Rule can be credited with institutionalizing the legacy of these voluntary efforts. However, the contribution of a number of social and political reform movements, such as Brahmo Samaj, Dyal Singh, Ali Garh, Sindh Hari and Khudai Khidmat Gar, cannot be ignored in this regard. Punjab University, Dyal Singh College, Lahore, D.J. College, Karachi, Mitha Ram Hospital, Karachi, MAO Colleges and Scientific Society, Sindh Madrassahtul Islam, Sindh Hari Committee, Islamia College Peshawar, institutions established by Anjuman-e-Hamayat-e-Islam and others, are some examples of institutionalized efforts amongst the long list of contributions to these socio-political movements (Iqbal, Khan and Javed, 2004). The concept of civil society or volunteerism for social causes goes back to the time of Independence, when large numbers of Muslims migrated to Pakistan from India and the government had no resources to support them. In this situation, many voluntary organizations were established to help the refugees. Most of these NGOs were set up and run by women (ADB, 1999). For the first few years of Pakistan, these NGOs worked to rehabilitate refugees. In the 1950 and 1960s, the major areas of operation of NGOs were health and education. In the 1970 and 1980s, a new set of NGOs was established that obtained funding from governments and international donors (ADB, 1999; Iqbal, Khan and Javed, 2004). NGOs in Pakistan can be registered under five laws: professional, cultural and educational bodies are registered under ‘The Societies Registration Act 1860’; the private activities of public charities are legalized by ‘The Trust Act 1882’; many NGOs are registered under the ‘Cooperative Societies Act 1952’; legal cover to NGOs undertaking welfare activities is provided under the Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance 1961; NGOs can set themselves up as non-profit companies under ‘The Companies Ordinance 1984’ (ADB, 1999). In the last decade, there has been a proliferation of civil society organizations in Pakistan, and these organizations have introduced new ways to strengthen the socio-economic development process for disadvantaged sections of society. Civil society has contributed through constructive social change. According to a survey conducted by the Government of Pakistan, National Council of Social Welfare, at the time of Independence there were only seven registered NGOs in Pakistan. In 2002 this number had reached 11,114, while the number of unregistered NGOs was recorded at more than 60,000 (Raheela, 2003). Today in Pakistan, NGOs lack credibility. Initially, people enter the NGO sector with high aims and objectives, but later on they often encounter difficulties (Raheela, 2003). In developed countries, NGOs have sufficient financial resources as they are run by rich individuals and supported by philanthropists. In Pakistan, individuals also contribute to the NGO sector, but this contribution does not meet the increasing needs of marginalized groups (ADB, 1999). Moreover, the democratic process is not deeply rooted in Pakistan. The country has been ruled by the military for almost half of its life. This affects the NGO sector, as donors often stop supporting non-democratic countries (Siddique and Ahmad, 2012). As a result, financial sustainability has become a major hurdle for the development of NGOs. Pakistan is one of the less developed countries of Asia. Although there has been a decline in the birth rate since the 1990s, the rate of population growth in Pakistan is still high, and Pakistan is the seventh most populous country in the world (State Bank of Pakistan, 2002). There is extreme poverty and political instability. In the last decade, there has been an increase in poverty: it was 30 percent, but now almost 40 percent of the country’s population is living below the poverty line (Azhar, 2013). Most of the economy of Pakistan is based on agriculture, but only 25 percent of the total arable land is under cultivation. There has also been a decrease in the contribution of agriculture to gross domestic product (GDP): it was 53 percent at the time of Independence but is now 26 percent (Meijerink and Roza, 2007). Although Punjab is a fairly well-developed province of Pakistan, the conditions are not too different from in Pakistan as a whole. Its economic growth has declined since 2004–2005. Economic growth in Punjab, which has remained at four percent for the last four years, is higher than that in other provinces but it does not meet the expected estimated growth of 6–7 percent. Regarding social indicators, the situation in Punjab is better than in any other province, but there is still great need (Government of the Punjab, The World Bank and DFID, 2013). Almost 56 percent of the population of the Punjab is poor. About 36% of this group resides in rural areas, which is the second highest percentage of rural poor among the provinces (Federal Bureau of Statistics, 2002, quoted in Chaudhry, 2009). In 2011, the literacy rate in the Punjab was recorded as 60 percent, as compared with 58 percent for the whole of Pakistan, and the child mortality rate was 81 per 1000 live births, which is higher than in any other province. Furthermore, only 24 percent of households have access to clean drinking water in the Punjab, as compared with 32 percent for the whole of Pakistan (Government of the Punjab, The World Bank and DFID, 2013). The situation in Southern Punjab is worse than in Central or Northern Punjab (Leghari, 2014). According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics (2002), almost 40 percent of the rural population of Southern Punjab is poor. Southern Punjab is usually ignored, not only at policy level but also regarding empirical inquiry, but it is facing many social, economic and developmental problems. Research published by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) explains the rapid population growth rate in Southern Punjab. The region is agrarian, but peasants are suffering because the owners residing in Central Punjab have handed over the land to their relatives, who can be bribed (William and Alam, undated). Rasul Bukhsh Rais (1997) has given an account of his experience, saying that in Southern Punjab, if you visit any town, including Multan, you will see eroded roads and leaking sewerage. This negligence can also be seen in the health sector. The present hospitals and doctors are not fulfilling the needs of an increasing number of patients (Leghari, 2014). The literacy rate is also very low, and beyond primary-level education, student enrollment is declining. In the Multan region, for example, 74 percent of girls and 65 percent of boys do not undertake study after primary level (Punjab Bureau of Statistics, 2010). In short, although the province has seen improvements in socio-economic indicators in the last decade, these are not satisfactory. The various socio-economic institutions are weak and are not capable of meeting the basic needs of the population (Government of the Punjab, The World Bank and DFID, 2013). The low literacy rate (UNICEF, 2013), lack of coherent political culture, and the lack of honesty and decency have made Pakistan a failure in the eyes of countries around the world (Tribune, 2011). Like other countries, the state provides for the various needs of the people of Pakistan, but there are shortcomings, and the state is not in a position to meet all the needs of all the people. As a consequence, NGOs that reach remote areas have emerged with the help of foreign funding (SPDC, 2002). According to the Canadian International Development Agency, as reported by SPDS in 2002, there are fewer than 100 effective NGOs in Pakistan that have clear objectives and an eye-catching agenda. Most NGOs have limited resources and work with narrow target groups. Furthermore, there are many issues relating to funds with NGOs, as there is no check-and-balance by state in this area and NGOs do not report regularly to government departments (SPDC, 2002). Most NGOs tend to focus on emergency relief, health and rehabilitation. Some have also contributed to income generation, micro-finance, poverty eradication, vocational and technical education, institutional care, child and women’s health, but their contribution in these areas is less than that in emergency relief. Some sectors, such as water, sanitation, irrigation, environmental issues, roads and urban development, have been considered to be under the remit of the government (ADB, 1999). Since 1961, the Social Welfare & Bait-ul-Maal (SW&BM) Department, Punjab, has registered a number of NGOs. After devolution of the powers of the Registration Authority at district level, the role of the Directorate General of SW&BM, Punjab transformed into the issuing of ‘no objection certificates’ (NOCs) to the registration authority at district level for the registration of NGOs. Because of the increased number of registration authorities all over the Punjab and the difficulties involved in collecting and updating information, only NOC granting status was updated in the computerized record of the Directorate. This practice created a lag for calculating the actual number of registered NGOs. Furthermore, the monitoring role was minimized. The Directorate was responsible for tracking the functioning of NGOs, the status of membership, the integrity of members, annual progress and the auditing of accounts in order to ensure the participation of communities in the development process through its registered NGOs, and for maintaining a mechanism that accounted for the monetary and non-monetary contributions of individuals to these NGOs. Unfortunately, this key function was weak, meaning that there are some common assumptions about the functionalities of NGOs. For example, it is thought that some people establish NGOs only to gain financial benefit in the form of funds from government and international donors or agencies, or that they register an NGO ‘for fun’ and after some time leave it to its fate. As a result, NGOs can become non-functional. There might be a variety of reasons for the non-functioning of NGOs, but this situation raises doubts about the functional status of NGOs. Therefore, it is very important to study the functional and operative capacity of NGOs. Significance of the study The present study is important because it aims not only to collect basic information regarding the registration status and services of NGOs but also to focus on those parameters by which the functioning of NGOs can be determined according to the provisions of The Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (R&C) Ordinance, 1961. Furthermore, the study aims to segregate functional and dysfunctional NGOs in order to gain a more accurate picture of the number of operational NGOs. It also aims to identify the nature of services offered by the NGOs and to facilitate the processing of information about disadvantaged sections of societies so that problems can be assessed and solved. The study also helps to identify the areas where the role of NGOs has been expanded to make necessary amendments to the available legal framework, and to ascertain whether NGOs have adopted democratic practices while making decisions and electing leaders. It further aims to identify the issues that hamper the smooth functioning of NGOs and to explore the areas where the capacity of these NGOs can be increased in order to facilitate improvement in the standard of services of NGOs. Finally, the study provides recommendations to guide policy and operational interventions and helps to highlight issues in operational capacity in developing countries. Objectives of the study This study is an attempt to: explore the operative capacity of NGOs in terms of their functional status (male/female membership, elections, fields and types of services and clients); identify the capacity gaps hampering the smooth functioning of NGOs in the region of Southern Punjab; identify the views of registration authorities regarding membership, services and record maintenance of NGOs. Method and procedure The objective of this research is to discover the operational capacity of NGOs in the province of Punjab, where ‘Operational Capacity is the ability of a non-profit organization to implement key organizational and programmatic functions’ (WNC, Non-profit pathways, undated). In this study, operative capacity is measured in terms of the functional status of NGOs, including membership,1 elections,2 fields of services and clients. This descriptive study deployed a quantitative method of research. The scope of the present study is the province of Punjab. This province has three main administrative regions, namely Southern, Northern and Central. There are a total 36 of districts in the province, out of which 11 are in Southern Punjab, eight are in Northern Punjab, and the remaining 17 are part of Central Punjab. The selection of which population to study was carried out in multiple phases. In the first stage, Southern Punjab was selected as a target region, because this region is often described as underprivileged and as having a poor socio-economic status as compared with other areas of Punjab. As noted, there are 11 districts in Southern Punjab, and all of these are considered in this study. The main districts of the region are Bahawalpur, Multan, Rahimyar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalnagar, Rajanpur, Layyah, Lodhran, Muzaffargarh, Vehari and Rajunpur. In the second phase, a list of all the national NGOs registered with the SW&BM Department, Punjab under the provisions of the Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961 was obtained. A total of 7516 NGOs are registered in Punjab, of which about 1942 are registered in Southern Punjab. In the third phase, sub-clusters were made on the basis of the functional, partially functional and non-functional status of NGOs. Out of the 1942 NGOs, 997 are functional, 181 are partially functional and 764 are non-functional. As the purpose of this research is to ascertain the operational capacity of NGOs, all functional NGOs of the 11 districts of Southern region were selected. Partially functional NGOs were excluded owing to incomplete information. Once the list of functional NGOs per region was prepared, district officers, who are the registration authority in their respective districts, were approached. Formal permission was obtained in order to enable access to NGOs and their statistics. A questionnaire was used as the tool for data collection. Data collection was also carried out in three phases. In the first phase, district officers (registration authority) were approached and information about the name, address and telephone number of NGOs was obtained. In the second phase, each NGO was approached individually and a representative of the NGO was requested to provide information. In the third phase, the registration authority was asked to give their assessment regarding the membership, record and services of the NGO, as well as recommendations. The time span for data collection was two months, namely October–November 2015. In each district, two field staff were assigned for data collection. Before collection of data, field staff were provided with formal training in which they were briefed about the purpose of study and the questionnaire. Once the data were collected, information was cross-checked through the registration authority for the functionality of NGOs. After collection, data were entered in SPSS and descriptive statistics were used to interpret the data. Results Table 1 represents the year-wise registration trend of NGOs. Data in the able show that the highest percentages of NGOs were registered during the years 2001–2010. During the period 1991–2000, 18 percent of NGOs were registered. Compared with these years, in previous decades the number of registration of NGOs was lower, namely 11 and 12 percent. The trend of NGOs registration declined again in the period 2010–2014, with 16 percent of NGOs registered. Table 1 Year-wise registration trend of NGOs Years  Frequency  Percentage  1961–1970  12  1  1971–1980  123  12  1981–1990  105  11  1991–2000  174  18  2001–2010  413  41  2010–2014  161  16  No information  9  1  Total  997  100  Years  Frequency  Percentage  1961–1970  12  1  1971–1980  123  12  1981–1990  105  11  1991–2000  174  18  2001–2010  413  41  2010–2014  161  16  No information  9  1  Total  997  100  Table 1 Year-wise registration trend of NGOs Years  Frequency  Percentage  1961–1970  12  1  1971–1980  123  12  1981–1990  105  11  1991–2000  174  18  2001–2010  413  41  2010–2014  161  16  No information  9  1  Total  997  100  Years  Frequency  Percentage  1961–1970  12  1  1971–1980  123  12  1981–1990  105  11  1991–2000  174  18  2001–2010  413  41  2010–2014  161  16  No information  9  1  Total  997  100  Table 2 details the membership of NGOs on the basis of gender. The data show that 67 percent of registered NGOs are ordinary members, 20 percent are executive body members, eight percent are life-time members and four percent are honorary members. Out of the total of ordinary members, 72 percent are male and 28 percent are female. For executive members, 79 percent are male and for 21 percent are female. For life-time and honorary members, 67 percent are male and 33 percent are female. The statistics represented in the Table show that, in Southern Punjab, more than 70 percent of membership is male, and female participation in terms of NGO membership is low, being on average 20–25 percent. Table 2 Total number of members of NGOs by type and gender Type of membership  Ordinary members  Executive body member  Life-time members  Honorary members  Other  Total  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F    21,566  8270  7127  1929  2354  1183  1177  567  229  69  44,471  72  28  79  21  67  33  67  33  77  23  100  Type of membership  Ordinary members  Executive body member  Life-time members  Honorary members  Other  Total  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F    21,566  8270  7127  1929  2354  1183  1177  567  229  69  44,471  72  28  79  21  67  33  67  33  77  23  100  Table 2 Total number of members of NGOs by type and gender Type of membership  Ordinary members  Executive body member  Life-time members  Honorary members  Other  Total  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F    21,566  8270  7127  1929  2354  1183  1177  567  229  69  44,471  72  28  79  21  67  33  67  33  77  23  100  Type of membership  Ordinary members  Executive body member  Life-time members  Honorary members  Other  Total  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F  M  F    21,566  8270  7127  1929  2354  1183  1177  567  229  69  44,471  72  28  79  21  67  33  67  33  77  23  100  Table 3 details the frequency of elections conducted by NGOs. Data show that the tenure of election for the majority of NGOs (52 percent) is two years, and the second highest figure (31 percent) is found for 3-year tenures. six percent of NGOs conduct elections every year, and the rest conduct elections every 4–5 years. About 0.4 percent of NGOs conduct elections every six years or more. This range shows a lack of transparency in the democratic process and inefficiency on the part of the registration authority as well as in NGO executive bodies. Table 3 Frequency of conducting elections of the executive body in NGOs Tenure of election  Frequency  Percentage  1 year  63  6  2 years  516  52  3 years  306  31  4 years  4  0.4  5 years  13  1.2  6 years and above  4  0.4  No information provided  91  9  Total  997  100  Tenure of election  Frequency  Percentage  1 year  63  6  2 years  516  52  3 years  306  31  4 years  4  0.4  5 years  13  1.2  6 years and above  4  0.4  No information provided  91  9  Total  997  100  Table 3 Frequency of conducting elections of the executive body in NGOs Tenure of election  Frequency  Percentage  1 year  63  6  2 years  516  52  3 years  306  31  4 years  4  0.4  5 years  13  1.2  6 years and above  4  0.4  No information provided  91  9  Total  997  100  Tenure of election  Frequency  Percentage  1 year  63  6  2 years  516  52  3 years  306  31  4 years  4  0.4  5 years  13  1.2  6 years and above  4  0.4  No information provided  91  9  Total  997  100  Table 4 details the field of service of functional NGOs. The highest number of services (11 percent) is in the field of women’s welfare. The second highest fields of service are child and youth welfare (9 percent for each). About 7 percent of NGOs report co-ordination with social welfare agencies as the main field in which they provide services. Both rehabilitation and the welfare of patients and training in social work have a six percent representation. Social education and recreational activities both have a five percent contribution in the fields of service of NGOs: the basic purpose of both activities is to keep people from anti-social behavior at the public level. The welfare of the disabled and family planning services are each provided by three percent of NGOs. Services related to the welfare and rehabilitation of released prisoners, of juvenile delinquents, of the socially handicapped, and of beggars and the destitute each account for two percent of the services provided by NGOs. About 25 percent of services are found in other categories, in which multiple fields were reported by respondents regarding the services they provide. Table 4 Frequency distribution of NGOs as per field of service Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  1  Child welfare  764  9  9  Welfare of juvenile delinquents  130  2  2  Youth welfare  769  9  10  Welfare of the socially handicapped  183  2  3  Women’s welfare  894  11  11  Welfare of beggars and the destitute  182  2  4  Welfare of disabled  280  3  12  Welfare and rehabilitation of patients  514  6  5  Family planning  258  3  13  Welfare of the aged and infirm  225  3  6  Recreational programmes  392  5  14  Training in social work  434  6  7  Social education  393  5  15  Co-ordination of social welfare agencies  576  7  8  Welfare and rehabilitation of released prisoners  137  2  16  Others  1994  25            Total  8125  100  Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  1  Child welfare  764  9  9  Welfare of juvenile delinquents  130  2  2  Youth welfare  769  9  10  Welfare of the socially handicapped  183  2  3  Women’s welfare  894  11  11  Welfare of beggars and the destitute  182  2  4  Welfare of disabled  280  3  12  Welfare and rehabilitation of patients  514  6  5  Family planning  258  3  13  Welfare of the aged and infirm  225  3  6  Recreational programmes  392  5  14  Training in social work  434  6  7  Social education  393  5  15  Co-ordination of social welfare agencies  576  7  8  Welfare and rehabilitation of released prisoners  137  2  16  Others  1994  25            Total  8125  100  Note: An NGO can adopt more than one field of service when approving their constitution. The figures presented in the able reflect multiple responses. Table 4 Frequency distribution of NGOs as per field of service Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  1  Child welfare  764  9  9  Welfare of juvenile delinquents  130  2  2  Youth welfare  769  9  10  Welfare of the socially handicapped  183  2  3  Women’s welfare  894  11  11  Welfare of beggars and the destitute  182  2  4  Welfare of disabled  280  3  12  Welfare and rehabilitation of patients  514  6  5  Family planning  258  3  13  Welfare of the aged and infirm  225  3  6  Recreational programmes  392  5  14  Training in social work  434  6  7  Social education  393  5  15  Co-ordination of social welfare agencies  576  7  8  Welfare and rehabilitation of released prisoners  137  2  16  Others  1994  25            Total  8125  100  Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  Ser. no.  Field of service  Frequency  Percentage  1  Child welfare  764  9  9  Welfare of juvenile delinquents  130  2  2  Youth welfare  769  9  10  Welfare of the socially handicapped  183  2  3  Women’s welfare  894  11  11  Welfare of beggars and the destitute  182  2  4  Welfare of disabled  280  3  12  Welfare and rehabilitation of patients  514  6  5  Family planning  258  3  13  Welfare of the aged and infirm  225  3  6  Recreational programmes  392  5  14  Training in social work  434  6  7  Social education  393  5  15  Co-ordination of social welfare agencies  576  7  8  Welfare and rehabilitation of released prisoners  137  2  16  Others  1994  25            Total  8125  100  Note: An NGO can adopt more than one field of service when approving their constitution. The figures presented in the able reflect multiple responses. In Table 5, NGOs are categorized as per the service sector provided in the various districts of Southern Punjab. NGOs are categorized under the main categories, keeping in mind similar areas and scope of services. The table shows that the highest percentage (33 percent) of NGOs provide services in the health sector in this region. The second highest type of services (16 percent) relate to vocational and technical training. About eight percent of NGOs provide formal educational and emergency response services in the districts of Southern Punjab. In the non-formal sector of education, this figure is similar, at seven percent. About six percent of NGOs work for environmental improvement. Economic assistance is provided by five percent of NGOs. Four percent of the NGOs create awareness regarding various social issues. Family planning services are provided by two percent of NGOs. Services for the disabled, aged, legal aid and religion each account for one percent of the reported NGO involvement. The lowest percentage (0.2 percent) is found for community and neighborhood development. Table 5 Frequency distribution of NGOs as per service sector Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  1  Health sector  1486  33  10  Environment  264  6  2  Formal education  351  8  11  Drug rehabilitation  17  0.3  3  Non-formal education  293  7  12  Community & neighborhood development  7  0.2  4  Vocational training  733  16  13  Awareness raising  201  4  5  Services for disabled  43  1  14  Religion  64  1  6  Family planning  79  2  15  Sports  57  1.2  7  Economic assistance  218  5  16  Legal aid  42  1  8  Aging  43  1  17  Others  255  5.6  9  Emergency situation handling  353  8  Total  4506  100  Total  Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  1  Health sector  1486  33  10  Environment  264  6  2  Formal education  351  8  11  Drug rehabilitation  17  0.3  3  Non-formal education  293  7  12  Community & neighborhood development  7  0.2  4  Vocational training  733  16  13  Awareness raising  201  4  5  Services for disabled  43  1  14  Religion  64  1  6  Family planning  79  2  15  Sports  57  1.2  7  Economic assistance  218  5  16  Legal aid  42  1  8  Aging  43  1  17  Others  255  5.6  9  Emergency situation handling  353  8  Total  4506  100  Total  Table 5 Frequency distribution of NGOs as per service sector Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  1  Health sector  1486  33  10  Environment  264  6  2  Formal education  351  8  11  Drug rehabilitation  17  0.3  3  Non-formal education  293  7  12  Community & neighborhood development  7  0.2  4  Vocational training  733  16  13  Awareness raising  201  4  5  Services for disabled  43  1  14  Religion  64  1  6  Family planning  79  2  15  Sports  57  1.2  7  Economic assistance  218  5  16  Legal aid  42  1  8  Aging  43  1  17  Others  255  5.6  9  Emergency situation handling  353  8  Total  4506  100  Total  Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  Ser. no.  Service type  No. of NGOs  Percentage  1  Health sector  1486  33  10  Environment  264  6  2  Formal education  351  8  11  Drug rehabilitation  17  0.3  3  Non-formal education  293  7  12  Community & neighborhood development  7  0.2  4  Vocational training  733  16  13  Awareness raising  201  4  5  Services for disabled  43  1  14  Religion  64  1  6  Family planning  79  2  15  Sports  57  1.2  7  Economic assistance  218  5  16  Legal aid  42  1  8  Aging  43  1  17  Others  255  5.6  9  Emergency situation handling  353  8  Total  4506  100  Total  Table 6 represents the number of clients of NGOs in millions by year. The highest number of clients is found in the health sector (1.938 million), and the second highest number is in vocational and technical training (1.199 million). In the health sector, the highest number of clients (0.734 million) occurred in 2013. Regarding formal education, the number of clients was also higher in 2013 than in previous years. In vocational and technical training, the highest number of clients (0.602 million) occurred in 2011. The most services for poverty alleviation/financial assistance were provided in 2013 (0.191 million). Regarding emergency /humanitarian response services, the highest number of clients is found in 2012: one reason for this could be that these areas experienced severe floods in that year. Regarding environment and resource conservation, the number of clients was greatest in 2013. Overall, a year-wise increasing trend in terms of clients can be seen. In 2011, the number of clients in all fields was 1.981 million; this number increased to 2.167 million in 2012 and remained almost the same in 2013, at 2.093 million. Table 6 NGO clients as per service sector (2011–2013), in millions Service sector  Clients  Total  Service sector  Clients  Total  2011  2012  2013  2011  2012  2013  Health  0.544  0.661  0.734  1.938  Drug rehabilitation  0.001  0.001  0.001  0.004  Formal education  0.161  0.168  0.239  0.569  Community & neighborhood development  0.04  0.45  0.056  0.547  Non-formal education  0.031  0.022  0.023  0.075  Awareness raising  0.104  0.087  0.12  0.31  Vocational services  0.602  0.267  0.33  1.199  Religious education  0.011  0.012  0.013  0.036  Disability services  0.037  0.004  0.006  0.047  Environment  0.131  0.129  0.143  0.403  Family planning  0.002  0.002  0.004  0.008  Sports  0.005  0.017  0.02  0.042  Economic assistance  0.141  0.171  0.191  0.503  Legal aid  0.016  0.018  0.025  0.06  Aging  0  0  0  0  Others  0.115  0.136  0.171  0.421  Emergency situation handling  0.04  0.021  0.018  0.08  Grand total  1.981  2.167  2.093  6.241  Service sector  Clients  Total  Service sector  Clients  Total  2011  2012  2013  2011  2012  2013  Health  0.544  0.661  0.734  1.938  Drug rehabilitation  0.001  0.001  0.001  0.004  Formal education  0.161  0.168  0.239  0.569  Community & neighborhood development  0.04  0.45  0.056  0.547  Non-formal education  0.031  0.022  0.023  0.075  Awareness raising  0.104  0.087  0.12  0.31  Vocational services  0.602  0.267  0.33  1.199  Religious education  0.011  0.012  0.013  0.036  Disability services  0.037  0.004  0.006  0.047  Environment  0.131  0.129  0.143  0.403  Family planning  0.002  0.002  0.004  0.008  Sports  0.005  0.017  0.02  0.042  Economic assistance  0.141  0.171  0.191  0.503  Legal aid  0.016  0.018  0.025  0.06  Aging  0  0  0  0  Others  0.115  0.136  0.171  0.421  Emergency situation handling  0.04  0.021  0.018  0.08  Grand total  1.981  2.167  2.093  6.241  Table 6 NGO clients as per service sector (2011–2013), in millions Service sector  Clients  Total  Service sector  Clients  Total  2011  2012  2013  2011  2012  2013  Health  0.544  0.661  0.734  1.938  Drug rehabilitation  0.001  0.001  0.001  0.004  Formal education  0.161  0.168  0.239  0.569  Community & neighborhood development  0.04  0.45  0.056  0.547  Non-formal education  0.031  0.022  0.023  0.075  Awareness raising  0.104  0.087  0.12  0.31  Vocational services  0.602  0.267  0.33  1.199  Religious education  0.011  0.012  0.013  0.036  Disability services  0.037  0.004  0.006  0.047  Environment  0.131  0.129  0.143  0.403  Family planning  0.002  0.002  0.004  0.008  Sports  0.005  0.017  0.02  0.042  Economic assistance  0.141  0.171  0.191  0.503  Legal aid  0.016  0.018  0.025  0.06  Aging  0  0  0  0  Others  0.115  0.136  0.171  0.421  Emergency situation handling  0.04  0.021  0.018  0.08  Grand total  1.981  2.167  2.093  6.241  Service sector  Clients  Total  Service sector  Clients  Total  2011  2012  2013  2011  2012  2013  Health  0.544  0.661  0.734  1.938  Drug rehabilitation  0.001  0.001  0.001  0.004  Formal education  0.161  0.168  0.239  0.569  Community & neighborhood development  0.04  0.45  0.056  0.547  Non-formal education  0.031  0.022  0.023  0.075  Awareness raising  0.104  0.087  0.12  0.31  Vocational services  0.602  0.267  0.33  1.199  Religious education  0.011  0.012  0.013  0.036  Disability services  0.037  0.004  0.006  0.047  Environment  0.131  0.129  0.143  0.403  Family planning  0.002  0.002  0.004  0.008  Sports  0.005  0.017  0.02  0.042  Economic assistance  0.141  0.171  0.191  0.503  Legal aid  0.016  0.018  0.025  0.06  Aging  0  0  0  0  Others  0.115  0.136  0.171  0.421  Emergency situation handling  0.04  0.021  0.018  0.08  Grand total  1.981  2.167  2.093  6.241  Table 7 considers the areas identified by the registration authority/district officers/respondents where NGOs need to build capacity. The data show that the highest number of respondents identified ‘disaster risk management’ and ‘emergency response’ as the main area for improvement. One plausible reason for this response is that the floods of 2012 severely affected these districts and the emergency response was poor at that time. The second major area of improvement identified is the record keeping of NGOs (17 percent). The third major areas identified by respondents are training in ‘organizational governance’ (15.3 percent) and ‘financial and project management skills’ (15.4 percent) for workers. Table 7 Identified constraints in the operative capacity of NGOs Ser. no.  Area of improvement  Areas  Number of NGOs  Percentage  1  Governance and leadership  604  15.3  2  Planning and management of finance  611  15.4  3  Record maintenance  670  17  4  Human resource management  144  3.6  6  Publicity and fund raising  816  21  7  Disaster risk management  736  18.6  8  Report making  273  7  9  Others  90  2.1  Total  3944  100  Ser. no.  Area of improvement  Areas  Number of NGOs  Percentage  1  Governance and leadership  604  15.3  2  Planning and management of finance  611  15.4  3  Record maintenance  670  17  4  Human resource management  144  3.6  6  Publicity and fund raising  816  21  7  Disaster risk management  736  18.6  8  Report making  273  7  9  Others  90  2.1  Total  3944  100  Table 7 Identified constraints in the operative capacity of NGOs Ser. no.  Area of improvement  Areas  Number of NGOs  Percentage  1  Governance and leadership  604  15.3  2  Planning and management of finance  611  15.4  3  Record maintenance  670  17  4  Human resource management  144  3.6  6  Publicity and fund raising  816  21  7  Disaster risk management  736  18.6  8  Report making  273  7  9  Others  90  2.1  Total  3944  100  Ser. no.  Area of improvement  Areas  Number of NGOs  Percentage  1  Governance and leadership  604  15.3  2  Planning and management of finance  611  15.4  3  Record maintenance  670  17  4  Human resource management  144  3.6  6  Publicity and fund raising  816  21  7  Disaster risk management  736  18.6  8  Report making  273  7  9  Others  90  2.1  Total  3944  100  Table 8 provides the rating of NGOs in terms of membership, services and record keeping as given by district officers (registration authority). The data show that 66 percent of respondents rate NGOs as good in terms of membership, and 33 percent rate them as satisfactory. For services of NGOs, the rating remains almost the same, with 66 percent of NGOs graded good in this sector as well. With reference to the record keeping of NGOs, 54.4 percent are graded as good and 44.4 percent are graded as satisfactory. Table 8 Area/district officer response on quality of membership, record keeping and services of NGOs Scale  Membership/Members of NGOs  Services of NGOs  Record maintenance    Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Good  530  66  530  66  435  54.4  Satisfactory  269  33  263  32.6  358  44.4  Poor  7  0.7  11  1.4  13  1.6  No response  03  0.3  0  0  0  0  Scale  Membership/Members of NGOs  Services of NGOs  Record maintenance    Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Good  530  66  530  66  435  54.4  Satisfactory  269  33  263  32.6  358  44.4  Poor  7  0.7  11  1.4  13  1.6  No response  03  0.3  0  0  0  0  Table 8 Area/district officer response on quality of membership, record keeping and services of NGOs Scale  Membership/Members of NGOs  Services of NGOs  Record maintenance    Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Good  530  66  530  66  435  54.4  Satisfactory  269  33  263  32.6  358  44.4  Poor  7  0.7  11  1.4  13  1.6  No response  03  0.3  0  0  0  0  Scale  Membership/Members of NGOs  Services of NGOs  Record maintenance    Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Frequency  Percentage  Good  530  66  530  66  435  54.4  Satisfactory  269  33  263  32.6  358  44.4  Poor  7  0.7  11  1.4  13  1.6  No response  03  0.3  0  0  0  0  Discussion How do NGOs work? What is the operational capacity of NGOs? What is the functional status of NGOs? These are some of the specific questions that come to mind when discussing the work of NGOs in developing countries such as Pakistan. In developing countries, it has almost become a truism that NGOs are charitable organizations that exist to make money. In this regard, it is also the case that many misconceptions regarding the role of NGOs in public sector development are found that raise doubts about the functionality of these organizations. Although the functionality of NGOs is in doubt, however, one cannot deny the positive and constructive role that these organizations perform in development in remote areas (Werker and Ahmed, 2008). Unfortunately, in Pakistan there are no well-documented facts that can provide base-line information regarding the functional status of NGOs, the services they provide, their scope with reference to clients, and areas for improvement. This study is therefore an attempt to explore the operative capacity of NGOs in Southern Punjab, a region of Punjab Province that is often categorized as unprivileged. Previous research regarding the socio-economic development of the region is alarming in that it identifies low literacy, poor health and problems with infrastructure in this Southern belt (Rais, 1997; International Fund for Agriculture Development, 2001; Federal Bureau of Statistics, 2002; Leghari, 2014). This study, by focusing on the operative capacity of NGOs, intends to identify the role of NGOs in solving these issues as well as focusing on possible areas for improvement in the region. As far as the functionality of NGOs is concerned, the data reveal that the majority of registered NGOs are functional in this region and very few are not operating. This result is contrary to previous findings (SPDC, 2002) that claim that only a few NGOs are operating and the rest are dormant. The registration trend of NGOs shows that the highest frequency of registration occurred in 2001–2010, and most NGOs are operating in their respective fields in the region. One important area of concern for NGOs is membership. The study reveals that in the NGO sector, membership is vested in men and very few female representatives are found in NGOs in the region. One reason for this could be the existence of strong Purdah norms in the region that restrict women’s open mobility and active participation specifically in the NGO sector (Hashemi, Schuler and Riley, 1996). Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961 registers NGOs that have executive and general body members. At district level, a minimum of 20 members are required, and at provincial level this number reaches 500. Members may include life-time members, ordinary members, and honorary members, but only ordinary and life-time members have the right to vote. (Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961). Data show that 67 percent of members of the registered NGOs are ordinary members, 20 percent are executive body members, eight percent are life-time members, and four percent are honorary members. The tenure of election of the executive body is 2–3 years. This trend of election of the executive body demonstrates the less democratic behavior of NGOs, which leads to a lack of transparency in these organizations. It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan herself lacks democracy. As part of this discussion, we can say that a non-democratic state may have effects on the democratic values of institutions and organizations. NGOs perform functions in various fields of service, including health, education, youth and women’s welfare, family planning and juvenile rehabilitation. The statistics gathered here show that in the Southern region of Punjab Province, the preferred fields of services of NGOs are child, youth and women’s welfare. In this respect, the results of this study are consistent with the Asian Development Bank (ADB (1999)) report, which states that the NGO core areas for providing relief are children and women’s welfare. In the services sector, it is found that the highest percentage (33 percent) of NGOs are providing services in the health sector in this region, and the second highest area is vocational training and technical education. These findings again support the study of ADB, in which poverty eradication, vocational and technical education, institutional care, child and women’s health are identified as the main service sector of NGOs in the region (ADB, 1999). Similarly, the highest number of clients is found in the health sector (1.938 million) and in vocational and technical training (1.199 million). One of the objectives of this study was to discover areas for improvement for NGOs, specifically with a focus on capacity building, and indeed the response of area officer/district officers (Registration Authority) reveals that the majority believe that the functionality of NGOs should be improved. In particular, respondents identify governance and leadership, financial and human resource management, record maintenance, reporting and disaster risk management as key areas where interventions are required. Similar areas were identified by SPDC (2002), which focuses on the pressing need to build the capacity of NGOs, gives recommendations for the development of organizational behavior in the NGO sector and also recommends that people in leadership and in operations should be adequately educated and trained so that they can perform their leadership tasks successfully. The continuous monitoring and assessment of functionaries is very important, as this guides the authorities in setting out guidelines for NGOs. In this context, membership and services are rated good for about half of the NGOs we investigated, whereas record maintenance needs improvement. Furthermore, proper auditing and democratic processes for election are also required in order to ensure quality services (Raheela, 2003). This will ensure that NGOs perform their tasks according to principles found in the law (Borgh and Terwindt, 2012). Conclusion This descriptive study, based on a data analysis of 997 NGOs working in the region of Southern Punjab, concludes that the majority of the NGOs registered under the Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance 1961 are functional. Education, health, and vocational and technical training are the three core areas of service, while the remaining areas such as the welfare of older people, people who are disabled, beggars, prisoners and juveniles are relatively neglected by NGOs. The membership of NGOs does not reflect an equal representation of men and women. Women’s representation is less than one-third of the total membership. The executive bodies of NGOs, wherein the decision-making largely lies, show very discouraging figures regarding the representation of women. Furthermore, the frequency of meetings of executive bodies of NGOs does not fulfil constitutional requirements. In fact, only one-third of NGOs follow constitutional requirements. This behavior shows a lack of decision-making through participatory processes in NGOs. The frequency of meetings of general bodies of NGOs is better than that of executive bodies. In addition, although most NGOs provide services in the health and education sector and to women and children, it is not clear how they achieve their objectives. The large number of NGOs reflects the need for capacity-building. Planning and financial management, project development and management and record keeping are some of areas identified. Most NGOs are rated good or satisfactory by district and area officers in terms of membership, services and record maintenance. The key areas that require improvement are governance and leadership, financial and human resource management, record maintenance, and reporting. This study is limited to a quantitative analysis, but future studies may adopt a qualitative methodology and obtain information from the registration authority, members of NGOs, and clients. Furthermore, his study targets only the Southern region of Punjab Province, but future research may consider the Central and Northern regions so that a comparative picture regarding the functionality of NGOs can be obtained. This study is also limited to national NGOs registered under the Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961; other international NGOs and NGOs registered under other authorities may also be considered in future research. Moreover, a relationship between the non-democratic structure of Pakistan and the non-democratic values of organizations in general and of NGOs in particular may be identified in the future. Recommendations On the basis of the findings of our study, the following recommendations can be made for guiding policy and operational interventions. Because the majority of NGO members are currently men, registration authorities need to specify the required level of representation of women in executive and general bodies in order to ensure female participation and organizational democracy. Because the tenure of elections varies across the NGOs of the region, proper monitoring by area/district officers is required. NGOs should extend their area and field of services beyond child, youth and women’s welfare, health and education to peasant welfare and also to the improvement of the developmental sector in the region. They should also move from welfare to sustainable development. In light of the trend of the non-functioning of large numbers of NGOs, a department should be established with the responsibility to develop monitoring and capacity-building in order to sustain the existence of voluntary organizations. The key areas of capacity-building have been identified in this study. NGOs, through co-ordination with district officers in the Social Welfare Department, need to plan capacity-building workshops for members bi-annually or annually so that these gaps may be filled. Footnotes 1 According to Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration & Control) Ordinance, 1961, the minimum number of members required for registration of an NGO at local and district level is 20 and at provincial level it is 500 members. Every male or female (mentally stable, over 18 years of age, of good moral character) can become the member. They can have ordinary membership, life membership, honorary membership or patron. 2 Here elections mean elections of the executive body, within which members can be selected or changed. Only ordinary and life-time members have the right to vote and contest elections. References ADB. ( 1999) A study of NGOs in Pakistan, accessed at: http://www.transparencywatchorganization.com/images/A%20Study%20of%20NGO%27s%20in%20Pakistan.pdf (15 June 2016). 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The Journal of Economic Perspectives , 22 ( 2), 73– 92. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   William, J. and Alam, E. (n.d) Radicalization of Youth in Southern Punjab. Formation Awareness and Community Empowerment Society Pakistan.  WNC, Non-profit pathways. (n.d) Accessed at: http://nonprofitpathways.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/FourCoreCapacities.pdf (10 June 2016). Author notes Sadia Jabeen has been a lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Virtual University of Pakistan since 2011. She holds an M.Phil. in social sciences from the University of the Punjab, Lahore. She has a special interest in the sociology of learning, community development and gender issues in her field of research. Nighat Yasmin holds an M.Phil. in sociology. She has been working as research officer in social welfare and at the Bait-ul-Maal Department, Punjab. Her areas of interest in the field of research are sociological issues in general, and the rights of women and children and the sociology of organization in particular. © Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2018 All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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Community Development JournalOxford University Press

Published: Aug 20, 2016

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