ABSTRACT A number of case studies of NGO projects have suggested that NGOs may have an important role to play in addressing environmental problems in developing countries. Drawing on research conducted in Zimbabwe, this analysis seeks to broaden and contextualize the discussion of NGO involvement in sustainable development initiatives. It reviews the theoretical basis for the current emphasis on NGOs, assesses the environmental problems in Zimbabwe within their historical and social contexts, and summarizes the findings of recent research on the characteristics of the NGO sector in the country. The purpose is not to evaluate specific NGO environment projects, but rather to assess the mechanisms through which the NGO sector as a whole might make a significant contribution to sustainable development, and the problems in doing so. It is argued that one major obstacle faced by NGOs is the demand made upon them to find simple, neat and comprehensive solutions to complex development problems. The tendency on the part of donors and NGO supporters to expect success stories is called here the ‘magic bullet syndrome’, and it is argued that this emphasis on simplicity and on success is unrealistic and counterproductive.
Development and Change – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 1994
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