Contracting NGOs for development : lessons and experiences for NGO- government collaboration in South Africa : a case study of the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA)
The practice of contracting out services to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has spread worldwide during the 1990's, and has significantly reshaped the relationship between government and NGOs. Within this dissertation, I explore the trend towards contracting at the international and South African levels. I argue that with the outsourcing of support services becoming an important performance strategy at an international level, there is no reason why NGOs in South Africa cannot start to perform a similar role. However, conclusions drawn from the experience of developed countries in relation to contracting should be treated with caution in South Africa. The continuing reform of the public sector in South Africa since 1994 has opened the window of opportunity for NGOs which have a record of valuable achievement in undertaking development work, and can demonstrate their capacity to establish contractual relationships with government and communities. The case study of the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA) suggests that the practice of contracting NGOs in South Africa is still relatively new and therefore imperfect, because of severe capacity constraints. The major finding of this research is that evidence is mixed on the effects and outcomes of involving NGOs in contracting, but if used carefully contracting is a viable palliative for the existing fundraising shortage facing NGOs and can, more importantly, extend services to the majority of South Africans.