Mansour Fakih

Publication Date



This paper traces the role of NGOs in development, modernization and capitalism in Indonesia. It offers a typology of alternative NGO structures and paradigms which allows NGOs to transform development, involve people and create a counter-hegemonic movement.

The past two decades have witnessed a tremendous increase in the number of NGOs operating in the Third World. In 1981 Development Cooperation Review estimated that as many as 8,000 well-established NGOs were engaged in relief and development work worldwide. These organizations were providing US 3.6 billion in annual support to development programs, two thirds of which came from private sources. This constitutes nearly ten percent of global development assistance. In 1985 the lives of more than 100 million peasants in Latin America, Africa and Asia were directly affected by NGO activities. These peasants are increasingly aware that just as others have escaped the vicious cycle of poverty by their actions, so can they.

NGOs are a relatively new type of organization. Motivated by service objectives and largely voluntary in nature, they arose in many cases out of societal conflict and tension. They emerged from the need to respond to crises caused by breakdown of traditional structures, from conflict with the powers-that-be in planning and implementation of development work, or from the realization that neither government nor private sector had the will, wherewithal or capacity to deal with immediate and lingering social problems (Ladim, 1987)

Do NGOs in Third World countries really have the capacity to solve the problem of poverty or will they merely address symptoms of poverty? In other words, can NGOs become an effective force for social transformation? In order to assess and understand the role of NGOs in alleviating root causes of poverty, I will develop a typology by comparing and classifying Indonesian NGOs and analyze their potential as a social change movement. This paper seeks to contribute to a theoretical framework of the role that NGOs and grassroots organizers can play in Indonesia as a counter-hegemonic movement for social transformation.

Book Series Title

Occasional Paper Series on Non Governmental Organizations