NGOs in Bangladesh:
Activities, Resources,
and Governance
Varun Gauri, The World Bank
Examples of low service quality
Bangladesh: Absenteeism rates for doctors
in primary health care centers: 74 percent
Zimbabwe: 13 percent of respondents gave
as a reason for not delivering babies in
public facilities that “nurses hit mothers
during delivery”
Guinea: 70 percent of government drugs
disappeared
Increasing public spending is not
enough
* Percent deviation from rate predicted by GDP per capita
Source: Spending and GDP from World Development Indicators database. School completion from Bruns, Mingat and Rakatomalala 2003
Similar changes in public spending can be
associated with vastly different changes in
outcomes
Sources: Spending data from World Development Indicators database. School completion from Bruns, Mingat and Rakatomalala 2003
Market Failure and State Failure
in Service Delivery: Are NGOs the
Answer ?
Altruism to overcome incomplete contracts
Flexibility for allocative and productive
efficiency
47% of World Bank projects involved
NGOs/CBOs (1997)
37% of USAID budget channeled through
NGOs (2001)
Even Jesse Helms likes development NGOs
Theories about what makes
NGOs tick?
Altruism
Benefits for founders and managers
Worker control
LITTLE EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE
‘Massive proliferation’ of NGOs
in Bangladesh
27,000 registered with MSA, 1600 with NAB
90% of villages have an NGO (2000)
One large NGO claimed to have reached 70% of
villages and 70 million people (2003)
Largest NGOs employ 10 to 70 thousand staff
members
About 10% of ODA channeled through NGOs
Business entrepreneurs: cell phones, dairy,
publishing, handicrafts
A bit of history
Bangladesh began as a nearly ‘failed state’ in 1971
due to civil war and cyclones of 1972
Recurrent floods and cyclones (1988 and 1991)
Donors poured resources into NGOs
NGOs moved from humanitarian relief and
reconstruction to ‘development’ tasks
NGOs moved from ‘consciousness raising’ to
‘service provision’
Donors encouraged self-sufficiency
Conflicts with the state
1991 NGO Affairs Bureau established
1991-2002 slow approval process,
transparency issues and for-profit activities
2001-2003 perceived politicization of
NGOs
2003 division of apex body
2004 push for new regulations
Objectives of the Survey
Descriptive statistics
NGO characteristics
Community perceptions
What works?
Pilot survey for use in other contexts
Sampling Overview
Thana selection
35 chosen; random sampling weighted by NGO activity
Within each thana:
Divided into ‘big’ NGOs and ‘other’ NGOs
Sample 100 ‘big’ NGOs
Collect lists of other NGOs during ‘big’ interviews
Choose six other NGOs in each thana randomly from
list
Methodology
NGO interview
Conducted with branch managers
Quantitative and qualitative data collected on a
range of aspects of NGO operations
Focus group
Conducted with selection of community
members / NGO clients
Qualitative perceptions of NGO services and
activities
Questionnaires
NGO survey topics
Activities
Sources and uses of funds
Relations with community, other NGO’s, government
Governance structures
Focus group topics
Various measures of NGO ‘performance’
Community characteristics
Field Implementation
Field implementation: March – April 2003
Six ‘other’ NGOs refused interviews
Only 2 ‘other’ NGOs in two thanas
One NGO in operation for less than one
year
Field staff interviewed only four NGOs in
one thana
193 ‘other’ NGOs in sample, 310 total
Table 1: Number of NGOs in each selected thana on initial
list, updated based on enumeration, and surveyed
Thana
In itia l N u m b e r o f
NGOs
B a g m a ra
B a n d a rb a n
B a ris a l
B h o la
Bochaganj
C h a k a ria
C h a n d in a
C h ita lm a ri
C o m p a n ig a n j
D e ld u a r
D h a m ra i
F a k irh a t
G a b ta li
G a ib a n d h a
G o p a lp u r
G u ls h a n
J e s s o re
M a n ik g a n j
M oham m adpur
(M a g u ra )
M o h a m m a d p u r (D h a k a )
M ohonpur
N a s irn a g a r
N a to re
N e tro k o n a
P a ik g a c h h a
P a k u n d ia
R a ip u r
R a jo ir
R am na
S a d u lla p u r
S a k h ip u r
S re e p u r
T a n g a il
W a zirp u r
TOTAL
192
7
15
33
23
17
8
11
10
60
12
12
26
63
17
966
A k h a u ra
U p d a te d N u m b e r
of NGOs
N um ber of N G O s
s u rv e ye d
6
7
7
31
10
55
19
7
9
18
14
2
19
22
10
21
29
15
44
77
39
13
33
28
57
16
10
26
20
16
4
27
31
14
14
58
69
37
73
44
12
9
10
10
9
9
8
9
8
4
9
9
10
10
8
8
9
10
10
8
195
14
25
33
23
18
10
12
14
54
25
17
25
75
29
1165
10
10
9
9
8
8
8
9
8
10
8
9
11
9
10
310
Figure 1: NGOs per Thana, Bangladesh 2003
N G O s p e r T h a n a , F re q u e n c y C o u n t,
B a n g la d e s h , 2 0 0 3
250
200
150
100
50
0
Table 2: Average number of NGOs per capita, by income
and wealth quintile
Q uintile
1
N G O s per
1000 people
(based on
incom e of thana)
0.091
N G O s per
1000 people
(based on
w ealth of com m unity)
0.097
2
0.082
0.195
3
0.226
0.130
4
0.108
0.114
5
0.184
0.184
Figure 2: Relative percentages of NGO types in
Bangladesh
What do NGOs do?
Sectors and Activities
Figure 3: Percentage of NGOs that provide each
of the specified services
Table 3: Percentage of NGOs that raise awareness
concerning selected subjects
B ig N G O s
S m a ll N G O s
S a n ita tio n
7 6 .9 0 %
7 9 .5 0 %
O th e r h e a lth is s u e s
6 9 .3 1 %
7 6 .8 6 %
N u tritio n
6 8 .2 8 %
7 2 .4 7 %
H u m a n rig h ts
6 2 .5 7 %
5 7 .2 7 %
G e n d e r is s u e s
5 4 .4 4 %
5 7 .3 9 %
A rs e n ic
4 9 .7 6 %
6 0 .7 4 %
C o n s e rv a tio n
4 0 .5 0 %
4 4 .1 6 %
H IV /A ID S
3 9 .9 7 %
4 0 .7 3 %
O th e r
3 2 .2 5 %
2 7 .4 3 %
R o a d s a fe ty
2 4 .3 4 %
2 4 .6 4 %
Methods of raising public awareness
Beyond Service Provision:
NGOs and Lobbying
131 NGOs lobby national government
97 NGOs had at least one meeting with
national government in last year
93 at least one meeting with local
government
58 ‘other’ NGOs had meetings with national
58 ‘other’ NGOs had meetings with local
Figure 5: Breakdown of NGO partnerships with
government agencies
Figure 6: Membership in umbrella organizations
NGO Resources
Finances and staff
Figure 7a: Breakdown of NGO revenues, as a
percentage of totals
Figure 7b: Breakdown of NGO expenditures, as a
percentage of totals
Figure 8a-b: Service provision by big and small
NGOs, free services vs. paid services
Financing of Activities
Dominant source of fund is fee for service:
Full sample: 50% of funds
Big NGOs: 62% of funds
Other NGOs: 43% of funds
Membership fees – common but small amounts
Over 90% of organizations collect membership fees
Represent less than 3% of overall revenues
Fraction of organizations with other
sources of revenues
Grant from Int'l NGO
Services Rendered
To government
To other NGO
Loans from mother
Small
0.16
Big
0.01
0.06
0.10
0.16
0.02
0.06
0.28
Figure 10: Composition of NGO staff, broken down by
function and work status. (Big NGOs displayed on the left,
small on the right).
Table 5: Average size and salary of NGOs’ specialized staff
N u rs e s
M e d ic a l d o c to rs
A v e ra g e n u m b e r o f
s ta ff (b ig N G O s )
0 .6 2
A v e ra g e n u m b e r o f
s ta ff (s m a ll N G O s )
0 .3 7
0 .0 8
0 .4 1
T e a c h e rs
1 8 .3 2
5 .1 2
L a w ye rs
0 .1 3
0 .1 1
S o c ia l s c ie n tis ts
0 .0 5
0 .1 5
N a tu ra l s c ie n tis ts /e n g in e e rs
0 .1 0
0 .0 5
H o ld in g o th e r u n ive rs ity d e g re e
7 .7 2
4 .9 4
A v e ra g e a n n u a l
s a la ry (b ig N G O )
A v e ra g e a n n u a l s a la ry
(s m a ll N G O )
3 4 6 8 0 .0 (1 2 % )
4 6 8 6 8 .4 (1 9 % )
T e a c h e rs
1 0 4 8 9 .2 (3 7 % )
1 6 5 7 4 .4 (3 4 % )
L a w ye rs
4 0 7 0 6 .4 (7 % )
4 8 6 2 5 .2 (6 % )
S o c ia l s c ie n tis ts
5 1 3 4 8 .0 (3 % )
3 9 7 8 4 .8 (2 % )
N u rs e s
M e d ic a l d o c to rs
N a tu ra l s c ie n tis ts /e n g in e e rs
H o ld in g o th e r u n ive rs ity d e g re e
7 3 3 6 2 .0 (3 % )
6 5 1 0 1 .2 (9 8 % )
5 4 8 1 3 .6 (9 5 % )
N ote: N um bers in parentheses rep resent estim ated percentage of big/sm all N G O s w ith a t least
one of the given type o f specialized staff
Specialized Labor: Summary
Teaching is most prevalent type of skilled
labor
Majority of NGOs that provide education
services have skilled teachers (67%)
Relatively few healthcare organizations
employ doctors or nurses (31% and 25%)
Median size and labor intensity
of NGOs
Full Sample
Revenues
1925
Employees
14
Households served
2196
Rev/Empl
95
Households/Empl
143
Other
1039
12
1500
76
113
Big
3425
25
3000
151
207
Constraints on improvement
Lack of:
Skilled Staff
Equipment
Vehicles
Funds
Restrictions from
Mother NGO
Nat'l Gov't
Local Gov't
Telephone
Utilities
Insecurity
Full Sample
Small
Big
0.34
0.33
0.49
0.52
0.41
0.42
0.57
0.73
0.23
0.19
0.36
0.18
0.06
0.12
0.09
0.05
0.09
0.08
0.09
0.16
0.09
0.36
0.11
0.31
0.34
0.12
0.26
0.38
0.10
0.40
Constraints: Summary
Smaller NGOs report greater resource
constraints
Government restrictions are not an (selfreported) impediment
Governance
Autonomy, Evaluation, Participation,
Accountability, and Management
Table 6: Which decisions are made by the NGO without
consulting the supervising branch/headquarters?
B ig N G O s
S m a ll N G O s
C o n ta c t lo c a l g o v e rn m e n t
8 4 .4 0 %
8 3 .6 5 %
C o n s u lt c o m m u n ity
8 0 .4 9 %
7 9 .4 0 %
S ta ff p e rfo rm a n c e re vie w
7 7 .7 2 %
6 5 .4 5 %
In itia te n e w a c tiv ity
4 8 .9 1 %
3 9 .5 9 %
P a rtn e r w ith a n o th e r N G O
1 1 .2 9 %
1 8 .2 9 %
S e t s a la rie s
4 .3 0 %
1 .9 5 %
H ire s ta ff
0 .7 7 %
2 .8 6 %
Table 8: Percentage of NGOs needing permission from an
oversight committee to perform the specified activities
B ig N G O s
S m a ll N G O s
E x p a n d in to n e w a c tivitie s
3 7 .7 1 %
5 8 .5 8 %
E x p a n d in to n e w a re a
3 6 .1 5 %
5 8 .6 7 %
P u rc h a s e b u ild in g
2 3 .5 8 %
3 5 .0 8 %
H ire /fire s ta ff
1 6 .9 4 %
3 9 .6 5 %
Table 9: How the NGO manager was chosen
B ig N G O s
(b ra n c h e s )
85%
S m a ll N G O
b ra n c h e s
84%
S m a ll N G O
h e a d q u a rte rs
-
E le c te d b y o v e rs ig h t c o m m itte e /b o a rd o f
tru s te e s
S e lf a p p o in te d
7%
11%
60%
3%
1%
24%
E le c te d b y m em b e rs
2%
3%
15%
O th e r
0%
1%
1%
A p p o in te d b y m o th e r N G O
Table 7: Methods used by NGOs to collect information
about community needs
B ig N G O s
S m a ll N G O s
F rom s u rve ys ru n b y N G O
8 5 .5 3 %
8 0 .9 4 %
O b s e rva tio n /e x p e rie n c e o f s ta ff
6 5 .8 8 %
7 2 .5 4 %
L e a rn fro m o p in io n le a d e rs in c o m m u n ity
5 6 .2 0 %
5 3 .9 0 %
L e a rn fro m lo c a l g o ve rn m en t
3 8 .2 6 %
2 5 .2 9 %
P a rtic ip a to ry w o rk s h o p s w ith c o m m u n ity
2 3 .7 0 %
4 0 .1 0 %
L e a rn fro m o th e r N G O s
1 3 .0 2 %
1 6 .3 4 %
F rom s u rve ys ru n b y o th e r o rg a n iza tio n s
1 .0 6 %
1 0 .1 9 %
O th e r
0 .0 0 %
1 .9 4 %
Figure 11: Percentage of NGOs involving
community members in provision of services
Figure 12: Methods used by NGOs to collect
feedback about how well they are meeting
community needs
Employee Review
Peer
Immediate Supervisor
Head Office
Donors
Program Beneficiaries
Full
0.15
0.70
0.38
0.02
0.06
Small
0.18
0.65
0.40
0.03
0.08
Big
0.09
0.79
0.36
0.01
0.03
Additional elements of
accountability
Auditing of accounts: 70%
Organization has Board of Directors: 65% of
‘other’ NGOs
Donor oversight: 84% of grant recipients (n=57)
visited by granting agency in last year, 75% had
community assessment conducted with agency
Ever visited by NGO Affairs Bureau: 36%
Ever visited by thana/local government: 55%
Ever visited by one or more line ministry: 26%
Employee Review
Peer
Immediate Supervisor
Head Office
Donors
Program Beneficiaries
Full
0.15
0.70
0.38
0.02
0.06
Small
0.18
0.65
0.40
0.03
0.08
Big
0.09
0.79
0.36
0.01
0.03
Additional elements of
accountability
Auditing of accounts: 70%
Organization has Board of Directors: 65% of
‘other’ NGOs
Donor oversight: 84% of grant recipients (n=57)
visited by granting agency in last year, 75% had
community assessment conducted with agency
Ever visited by NGO Affairs Bureau: 36%
Ever visited by thana/local government: 55%
Ever visited by one or more line ministry: 26%
Table 10: Characteristics of NGO managers
B ig N G O s
S m a ll N G O s
M a le
98%
87%
Age
3 6 .2
3 8 .2
1 0 0 .0 0 %
9 9 .6 5 %
B a n g la d e s h i n a tio n a ls
N u m b e r o f la n g u a g e s s p o k e n
2 .3
2 .2
9 9 .6 %
96%
F rom “o n e o f ric h e s t fa m ilie s in B a n g la d e s h ”
0 .7 %
3%
F rom “m id d le c la s s fam ily”
88%
84%
2%
0 .8 %
46%
46%
8 .0
7 .2
W ork e d fo r a n o th e r N G O p rio r to jo in in g
11%
37%
T ra ve le d o u ts id e B a n g la d e s h
10%
25%
7
10
10
12
T e rtia ry e d u c a tio n
F rom a “p o o r fa m ily”
H a d re la tiv e s liv in g o u ts id e B a n g la d e s h
Y e a rs in p o s itio n
N u m b e r o f n a tio n a l c iv il s e rva n ts k n o w n
N u m b e r o f lo c a l c ivil s e rv a n ts k n o w n
In v o lve d in a n o th e r N G O
H a d a n o th e r o c c u p a tio n a t tim e o f s u rve y
W ork e d fo r a n o th e r b ra n c h p rio r to th is o n e
W ork e d fo r g o ve rn m e n t
0 .3 %
5%
2%
20%
82%
70%
3%
10%
Summary: An Institutional
Isomorphism
Branch and headquarters structure
Overwhelming focus on credit services
Service fees / operations main sources of revenue
Salaried and professional staff, not volunteers
No religious affiliation
Partnerships, little sub-contracting w/ government
Middle-class, college-educated male managers
Focus group summary:
Qualitative and quantitative measures of NGO
performance:
- NGO efficiency at providing services relative to
community
- NGO efficiency at providing services relative to
local government
- Perceived ‘self-servingness’ of NGO
Performance rating of NGOs
NGOs are perceived to be approximately as
efficient at providing services as communities
themselves
NGOs are perceived to be significantly more
efficient at providing services than the
government
Mean performance rating
… relative to community:
… relative to government
All
Small
Big
51.07
64.68
50.12
64.76
52.63
64.55
(Performance rating = allocation out of 100)
Correlates of Success
& Community Perceptions
Direct evaluation by supervisor
Direct community feedback
Involvement of community members in
project execution
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