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Whose servants? The Dilemma of Four Tanzanian Umbrella and Quasi-umbrella NGOs

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Title: Whose servants? The Dilemma of Four Tanzanian Umbrella and Quasi-umbrella NGOs
Author: Haapalainen, Sara
Contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Politiikan ja talouden tutkimuksen laitos, kehitysmaatutkimus
Thesis level:
Abstract: This master’s thesis is a case study of four Tanzanian umbrella and quasi-umbrella non-governmental organizations (NGOs): Tanzania Council for Social Development (TACOSODE), Tanzania Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (TANGO), the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS), and the National Council of Non-governmental Organizations (NACONGO). These organizations are “serving” and “offering support” for local civil society actors and NGOs. They are running projects through their members, local NGOs and community-based organizations (CBOs) and concentrate on the “building capacities” of the local civil society. There are fewer studies on these kinds of intermediary organizations in Africa and this thesis founds how the context poses constraints and opportunities on these organizations and how these organizations use their room for manoeuvre and legitimize their roles as support organizations. The study is slightly aslant towards the two national umbrella NGOs (TANGO and TACOSODE), while still recognizing that some of their realities cannot be understood without giving attention to the quasi-umbrella NGOs (FCS and NACONGO).

The data for this study was collected by doing interviews, as well as doing participant observation and document analysis in Tanzania for two and a half months. The interview material consists of 24 recorded interviews and notes on 14 interviews among the umbrella and quasi-umbrella NGOs and their stakeholders: members, donors and government officials. The face-to-face interviews were between semi-structured and theme interviews and the interview material were coded in themes by using ATLAS.ti computer programme.

It was found that the umbrella and quasi-umbrella NGOs have different kinds of inter-dependencies between the state, donors and members/beneficiaries. The study also shows some isomorphic forms among the umbrella and quasi-umbrella bodies, although some points of divergence are noticed as well. All the organizations are working for the same goals (poverty reduction and social development) and are doing some similar activities (capacity building and advocacy) but do not actively work together because competition over resources, members, political power and organizational legitimacy does not enhance cooperation among the organizations. Even though umbrella NGOs work mostly country-wide, support their members and highlight their intermediary roles, sometimes their work cannot be separated from other well-established and donor-funded Tanzanian NGOs. This suggests that these organizations are not serving their members as they are supposed to. Yet, the survival of the organization depends on its abilities to play the intermediary role between different sectors successfully. The most important thing then is to maintain a balance between different actions: serving members, serving donor agendas, their own interest as an organization or other stakeholders’ interests depending on the situation.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/34060
Date: 2012-06-09
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