Preparing to ‘withdraw’

My latest livemint article is up today

Recognizing that an external agency ought to play the role of a facilitator, it is safe to say that unless an agency has a well-defined withdrawal strategy for self-reliance and sustainability, the main motive for its existence itself is endangered. An agency cannot just contemplate packing its bags when funds run out or when a project is deemed to have finished. There has to be a long-term strategy, outlining in what manner the phased change in relationship is going to take place. The emphasis has to be on placing sustainable institutions in place that belong to people, and are capable of effectively addressing the development needs of communities and putting in place rigorous mechanisms to measure outcomes and impacts.

The editors of Livemint have given it their own spin by titling the column – “Preparing for the moment when an aid agency withdraws” – not exactly what I had in mind, but it does have its own logic. The thrust of my piece is how on-ground implementing agencies such as NGOs need to have their ‘withdrawal’ strategies (irrespective of aid running out). But of course, donor pressure and withdrawal of aid are often the impetus for exist strategies, as I mention early on in the piece itself

With this piece, I am picking up on an old project I did when I was at IRMA, exploring withdrawal strategies with one of my favourite NGOs in India. In the coming weeks, I will hopefully have gathered some more material on the topic of NGOs and development models of the old…


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