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The influence of the rights-based approach on the decision-making of civil society organisations in the delivery of development aid: a case of Actionaid and Ofam-Novib in Nigeria

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

This study focuses on the ways the rights-based approach (RBA) to the delivery of development aid and shapes the partnerships between INGOs (ActionAid and
Oxfam-Novib in Nigeria) their intermediate NGO and CBO partners, and influences the decisions all sets of actors make on strategic, operational and financial matters. Extant literature suggests that NGOs that adopt RBA may secure more funds from rights-based donors; and if they did not do so, they would face funding cuts from such donors (Harris-Curtis et al. 2005; Kindrnay et al. 2012). They also claimed that rights-based NGOs would have an increasing focus on advocacy while not curtailing their service delivery work. This study used face-to-face interviews, focus group, participant observation, and document analysis to investigate the extent to which RBA has the potential to deliver on these claims.

Informants from the INGOs and their intermediate NGO partners claimed that they premised their choice of partners on RBA, which promote a productive partnership between them. However, they claimed that RBA limits their funding sources because many donors prefer to fund service delivery and they are also selective based on their commitment to the approach on whom they have a financial relationship with. Informants from the INGOs, intermediate NGOs, and CBOs claimed that RBA motivates them to locate alternative funding sources locally that can lead to more financial (and other forms of) autonomy from foreign donors. Having access to more locally available funds may enable a rights-based programming approach with fewer constraints than what would be likely with a foreign donor and could transformative social changes in the context.

Furthermore, key informants from the INGOs and their intermediate NGO partners claimed that they are having a greater focus on advocacy, but employ service provision to gain entry and trust of rights-holder organisations and to demonstrate good practices to government. For CBO participants, RBA poses fewer problems regarding their funding decisions and choice of partners, but they collaborate with INGOs and intermediate NGOs on rights claiming capacity building programmes. Most of the informants from all organisations claimed that donor’s preference for project-based aid, gender discriminatory practices, and the potential security risks are some of the obstacles to RBA, which shaped their strategic, operational and financial decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
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Award date2018
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ID: 11067012