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Cozy or Crowded? The Effect of NGOs on Citizens' Contact with Government



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In this presentation, Dr. Jami Núñez addresses how the challenge of building responsive local governments capable of delivering poverty-alleviating services has heightened with the development of the Sustainable Development Goals. The new goals renew the debate on whether non-governmental organizations (NGOs) engaging in service delivery facilitate government engagement in similar services or crowd them out of the service delivery sector. This paper explores whether interactions with NGOs affect the demands made of government for goods and services. Using a mixed methods approach, she draws on original data gathered in the Peruvian Amazon in poor rural communities. Through household surveys, she finds no evidence for the claims that demand for government services decreases as a result of support from service-delivery NGOs and instead find that some types of contact with NGOs are associated with greater interaction with government. Extending these findings with interviews with community leaders, governments and NGOs, Núñez identifies mechanisms through which NGOs actually facilitate contact with government. The conclusions are generally supportive to NGOs but also suggest opportunities to further strengthen local government responsiveness.

Image: Photograph of Puerto Maldonado by Marco Simola of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Peru. Reprinted via CC ©.

Núñez received her Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. She studies international development, with a particular focus on water and sanitation. She has worked with teams in the UC-Boulder’s College of Engineering for the last three years as the Lead Researcher on three monitoring and evaluation projects in rural water systems and peri-urban sanitation in Peru. Her dissertation explores the role of NGOs in democratization and development, focusing on how NGOs impact local governments, especially in the provision of rural water services.


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Cozy or Crowded? The Effect of NGOs on Citizens' Contact with Government