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Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

 This term is used to describe many sorts of organisations, whose only common characteristic is that they are separate from government, if not from its regulatory control. They are mainly voluntary agencies, charitable bodies, educational institutions, communitybased interest groups and associations (professional, local, gender, etc.). Thus they are regarded as organised expressions of civil society, and are often suitable channels for development activity and funds. International NGOs have traditionally worked through local and indigenous NGOs as operational partners. The range of NGOs and their technical and managerial capacity is very wide. Many are primarily active in rural areas; some in low-income urban areas; some concentrate on project activity whereas others specialise in advocacy and awareness raising. In recent years, strengthening the capacity of local NGOs has been seen as a means of fostering development and the institutions of civil society, which has a developmental purpose in itself. In some countries, where government service infrastructures are underdeveloped, NGOs have become an alternative or additional conduit to government for development co-operation funds from governmental and multilateral donors. Their role has accordingly been given greater recognition, and has at the same time come under greater scrutiny and regulation by recipient governments. As far as water-related activity is concerned, they are most likely to act as partners with local authorities in the context of BWSS. Their focus on the poor, and their emphasis on participation, favours their involvement at community level. (See also Decentralised co-operation and Chapter 14.)

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