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Leveraging Non-Governmental Organizations for Scale and Impact: Lessons Learned from the Crop Crisis Control Project

Published by:
Publication date
Number of Pages
Type of Publication:
Working Papers & Briefs
Focus Region:
Sub-Saharan Africa
Focus Topic:
Institutions / Organizations
Type of Risk:
Managerial & operational
Biological & environmental
Type of Risk Managment Option:
Risk assessment
Steve Walsh
Catholic Relief Services

While non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been lauded for their ability to respond quickly to crisis and to work with a variety of actors to address problems in a catalytic and coordinated manner, they have also been criticized for their lack of technical capacity and the limited sustainability and short term nature of their actions. The NGO mandate differs significantly from the mandate of national programs or their counterpart international research centers. This multi-sectoral orientation of NGOs is driven by short term project funding and oblique program mandates. Where research excellence is at the pinnacle for national and international research centers, partnership is what drives NGO success. This paper briefly discusses the role of NGOs in agricultural interventions and highlight some of the key lessons learned from Catholic Relief Services experience managing a multi-country banana (Musa spp.) project in Central and East Africa; specifically related to fostering effective networks and partnerships, administering and managing multiple partners, working with research to address problems at scale in a timely and cost effective manner; and drawing some conclusions applicable to other agricultural interventions marked by multiple partners and a commitment to achieve scale and impact.