The Accountability of non-governmental organizations: A case of Bangladesh
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NGOs are playing a crucial role in the development of developing countries. NGOs accountability is gradually emerging as a pressing issue in the development arena. The NGOs' effectiveness can be amplified by ensuring accountability. The study was initiated to address a vital issue: how NGOs' are ensuring accountability to diverse stakeholders. The study carried out in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has possibly been the most important hearth on the world for non-governmental organizations. NGOs in Bangladesh have shown a significant success over last few decades. In spite of significant achievements, NGOs have been under attack from different bodies like bureaucrats, politicians, business community, religious groups and even civil society. Thus, NGO accountability has become a critical issue. The present study tries to examine the accountability practice of NGOs in Bangladesh. The analytical framework of the study grounded on the Najam's stakeholder's approach. Here accountability has been scrutinized with regard to government, donor, internal governance and beneficiaries. This framework was supplemented by principal-agent model and resource dependency theory. In addition, Kilby's accountability schema and the concept of participation ladder were employed to see the level of downward accountability. The study collected primary data from four different NGOs. Also, evidence was collected from secondary sources whenever it was necessary. The study applied case study as a research strategy, and the research approach was entirely qualitative using in-depth interview, observation, focus group discussion and wide range of document review. The study findings indicate that NGO bureau Bangladesh has wide range of regulatory framework and mechanisms to oversee NGOs. Despite of having well-structured legal framework, bureau are suffering of limited human resource and other logistics supports. These shortcomings hinder NGO bureau to keep a close tab on NGOs activity. On the top of that, some NGOs have a political ally with government that deteriorated the situation more. Compared with bureau, donors are more tactical in ensuring their partner NGOs' accountability. Donors provide more elaborate guidelines and maintain more intensive follow up on NGOs activity to ensure that NGOs are implementing programme/project according to donors' prescription. Donors' financial edge plays a pivotal role in donor-NGO relations. The pattern of accountability to donors varies donor to donor depending on their types and nature. With regard to internal accountability, the internal accountability is interrupted due to hierarchical and poor governance practice of NGOs. On the other hand, the participation of beneficiaries in different phases is very poor. A considerable amount of client participation was found in programme implementation phase. The condition is worse in case of decision making and evaluation phase. Here participation is more rhetoric rather than actual exercise.