NGO effectiveness: evidence from the field of child labour in El Salvador

Ivica Petrikova

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This paper examines the impact that relations among three non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working with child labourers in El Salvador have on the overall effectiveness of their development assistance. Each of the organisations studied has chosen a different approach to child labour – one of them views it as an inevitable consequence of poverty that cannot be addressed separately from other developmental problems, while another one regards it a violation of children’s human rights in need of imminent eradication. The third organisation falls somewhere in between, promoting child-labour bans in theory but not fully enforcing them in practice. The three NGOs neither collaborate nor communicate with each other. As a result, their overall effect on child labour is hindered by a small scale of projects, high transaction costs, potential duplication, and contradicting strategies to child labour. While some of these vices could be improved via intensifying organisations’ mutual coordination, more communication on its own would likely not lead to greater coherence of approach to child labour on the national level, as it appears that the NGOs devise their strategies and projects on the basis of their donors’ preferences rather than on the basis of their beneficiaries’ needs. I conclude with the observation that in order to increase their aid effectiveness, NGOs working in child labour, and in other divisive development topics, should be in closer coordination not only with each other but also with the governments of the countries where they work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-244
JournalForum for Development Studies
Issue number2
Early online date12 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2015


  • NGOs
  • aid effectiveness
  • child labour
  • El Salvador
  • Central America


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