This chapter provides a literature review on the impact of NGOs in socio-economic development of rural communities. Firstly it provides literature on the concepts regarding NGOs including its definitions, types and activities. The conception of rural community is also described in this chapter to suit the intent of the study. Challenges facing NGOs have also been outlined in this chapter and politics and state-civil society relations in Zimbabwe. The researcher also took cognisance of reviewing literature on the role of NGOs in promoting socio-economic development in rural communities across the sphere. Also reviewed were the strategies that the NGOs use in planning and development of projects for the rural communities and lastly this chapter discusses theoretical framework.
Ramakrishna (2013) states that NGOs are difficult to define and classify, as the term ‘NGO’ is used consistently. As a result, there are many different definitions in use”. NGOs are defined as not for profit organization which intend to transform or improve the lives of people. Ventakatanath (2009) defines Non-Governmental Organisation as a non-profit, social service voluntary organisation of community, persons, volunteers, civilians and citizens. Non-governmental organizations have a history dating back from 1839 and it have been estimated that by 1914, there were 1083 NGOs in the world (Ramakrishna, 2013). Ramakrishna further argue that the phrase “non-governmental organization” became widely used during the establishment of the United Nations Organization (UN) in 1945. Martens and Seitz, (2015) acknowledge that the roots of modern humanity can be traced back from the beginning of the 20th century in the United States when business tycoons like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie set up the first large American foundations, primarily as a way to shield some of their income from taxation but also as a way to garner prestige and influence in the United States of America (USA) and world affairs.

Martens and Seitz (2015) further posits that a lot of NGOs’ funds emanate from the American foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Martens and Seitz, (2015) indicates that these foundations have been influential actors in global development, not only through their grant-making but also by shaping development concepts and policies, particularly in the areas of socio-economic development. Shivji (2007) substantiate that NGOs are led by and largely composed by the educated elite and they are usually located in urban areas. Rural areas are only the operational grounds for accessing funding and acquiring information needed in drafting reports and concepts to be used in the search for donor’s activities.
The fall of the Soviet led to the rise and increase of NGOs in the civil society making it a vogue around 1980. Shivji (2007), identified three types of NGOs which have led to the continued domination of the colonial mode in a different form called globalisation. However, the Career Services Centre (2011) have categorised NGOs into three broad range depending on each organisation activities. Firstly there is; radical elite NGO which is concerned with change and transformation of political issues but it is not necessarily involved in the partisan politics but take opportunity to express themselves and advocates for change. An example of such NGO is of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP).
Secondly is charity organisations which are normally driven by passion and altruistic motive of transforming the lives of other fellow citizen. These kind of NGOs are morally driven and an expertise example is that of World Vision. A third category is the careerist driven one, this type of NGO is mainly composed of the former government employees who have observed that funding is being directed into the civil society. Shivji (2007) cited that this type of NGO is driven by material gains and personally motivated. These types of NGOs are formed after discovering that jobs in the government or public sector are difficult to come by.
The concept of a rural community has been one complicated issue in the human development aspect and even for policy makers as they embark on designing policies meant for such places. However, for this research a rural community can be defined as a place with limited access to opportunities, essential services and administration. Mondal (2015) explains that rural communities are derived privileges to access socio-economic amenities such as social services and fail to enjoy the rights of being citizens due to negligence by the administrations panels of the government.

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Picketty (2014) quoted by Scoones (2015) explains that poverty remains rife in rural communities, its effects have accumulated and continues to obstruct such communities which have further increased the gap differences between the rural and urban. Zimbabwe have been in riddle of economic instability since the beginning of the second millennium. The constitution of Zimbabwe of 2013 which is the first constitution to be drafted by Zimbabweans since 1980 stipulates the need to serve citizens with basic services, including educational and health facilities, water, roads, social amenities and electricity to marginalised areas (GoZ, 2013) which is a pre-requisite in the development area.
Oxfam (2009) posits that Zimbabwe have experienced under investment and experienced loss of skilled labour due to economic decline in the past decade mainly due to an economic downturn. The health and education sectors were adversely affected with people succumbing to cholera and other epidemic diseases, while the quality of education was compromised, which was justified by the growing numbers of school dropouts and low pass rates in primary and secondary schools (GoZ, 2013). Such conditions have been prevalent and orchestrated in rural communities due to the low or zero income status.
Section 30 of the Zimbabwean constitution states that the government is obliged to take practical measures, within the resources available to it, to ensure provision of social security and social care to those in need of it. In unification with this section, Section 19 affirms the state needs to adopt congruent and consistent policies as well as measures to ensure shelter and health care is offered to people. While the second knot of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset) grants permission for NGOs to intervene in assisting the government to enable the rural communities, access basic social services, particularly education, health, water and sanitation, and civic protection sectors that this research has considered as socio-economic development.
A community is said to be socio-economically developed when they are able to rise above the constraints and hindrances within their household and community at large (Golla, Malhotra, Nanda & Mehra 2011:4). The economic aspect entails access and control of family resources, employment, ability to earn an income, access to markets and it also strengthens negotiating power, decision-making and it increases social status. Eyben et al (2008:8) posits that social development enables the individual to develop capacity for agency, this capacity for agency can be achieved as an individual or as a collective and it leads to one having a sense of self-worth and it helps to improve social relations.
In the course of this study, it was observed that a number of NGOs are on ground carrying out different types of socio-economic developmental projects and programmes. Cerulli (2006) cites that NGOs are geared towards the socio-economic development of the people in rural communities and they have embroiled in a longstanding vision of changing the world into a better place for human habitation especially for the poor and marginalised. A number of NGOs have played a vital role in socio-economic development in one way or another (Ramakrishna, 2013). NGOs have embarked on the process of socio-economic development programmes after observing the inability of the governments to enormously serve the marginal rural communities thereby making their role so critical in development process. People in rural areas have not enjoyed the quality of life as is by people living in urban areas of Zimbabwe. Ramakrishna (2013) noted that NGOs are engaged in multifarious activities ranging from social, economic, environment and political sphere. NGOs continue to engage in socio-economic development activities such as to help with employment opportunities for rural youth through the provision of capital to formulate income generation projects, providing vocational skills such as carpentry, building, welding and sewing.
Batti (2014) cite that the economy in Zimbabwe is undergoing through some challenges which include, among others, externalisations of money, liquidity crunch, decline in businesses and a very tight fiscal space. The tight fiscal space have serious negative spill over effects in socio-economic development particularly on public service delivery and its consequences on people’s health, education support and overall poverty. This has promoted a bipartisan approach to development by NGOs. Rural populace have pinned their hopes on NGOs as an alternate solution to the failure of the government’s efforts to develop their communities.
Scholars like Chatiza (2010), argues that NGOs have been important since they are seen providing socio-economic activities such as health services to the poor during times of economic and socio-political recession which frequently hit governments in developing countries. Despite their flaws, this makes NGOs priceless in the socio-economic development aspect of a nation especially when it comes to rural communities which are marginalised by governments.
Nelson (2007) viewed NGOs to be entities operating individually and collectively at all levels of society and have impact on many aspects of people’s lives, ranging from their political to socio-economic opportunities. This has marked a shift from humanitarian orientation to more of developmental in diverse. Suharko (2007) wrote that, NGOs engage in policy advocacy to influence public policies concerning the poor people and develop various strategies to influence the process of public policy making and to control the implementation of development programs or projects.

The other role which has been played by NGOs in socio-economic development is the issue of promoting gender equity which implies that men and women have an equal representation and participation in the community level decision-making and control (Suharko, 2007). Gender equity has helped both sides to articulate their concerns and interests to take responsibility, and actively participating in the development processes of their communities. In this regard, NGOs have created more room for engagement through their surveys and findings. Bassey (2008) argues that in the pursuit of solutions to developmental problems besetting the African continent, the donor community is increasingly taking perception of NGOs to be the reliable agencies for leading an effective and sustainable development than the governments.

According to the DOCHAS Report of 2008 there are a few NGOs that have developed structures to respond to grassroots demands despite the participatory approaches that are theoretically perceived to be the mechanisms for involving communities in decision making participation. Critics have been scooped on NGOs for their failure to involve the grassroots in decision making concerning the planning of projects. Moyo (2009), cite that the issue of community involvement and participation in decision making has broiled an academic debate which has called for this inquiry to be put on book.
Although NGOs have helped in fostering socio-economic development in rural areas, the planning of development programmes and projects is often centralised and planning proceedings discourage local involvement (Oakley 1999). Most NGOs use previous information and office information to design solutions for the communities which are sometimes intangible and fail to meet the demands of the people. Muponde (2014) pointed out that NGOs descend on communities to make money without even doing ground work to determine what the people need. The NGOs usually operate in the bounds of the interests of the funding partner who prescribes to them the rules, regulations and conditions of the use of aid funds although they have limited knowledge of what the people in the communities want.
The tendency of universalising development strategies has somehow influenced the operations of most NGOs and simultaneously fighting poverty continues since the projects fail to achieve what is expected of them. According to Oakley (1999), projects for rural communities are externally driven which leads to a recurrent failure to sustain themselves once the initial level of project support ends. This backs the importance to consider the local ideas as it can ensure the projects dynamics or sustainability.
Chatiza (2010) posits that NGOs in Zimbabwe undergoes polarisation and traumatic phases which are usually characterised by disruptions and banning of their activities. The interferences of the government into the operations of NGOs through the provision of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and alignment to the developmental plans drafted by local governments deposit limit on their potency in developing rural communities. Hence NGOs are forced to divert their attention to the demands of those controlling them when it comes to development aspects and this has been integrated into this inquiry.
Humanities, social-service activities and charities have become the political weapons of the first order, if those who control them are minded to use them for political purposes. Josephson (2012) explains that NGOs have the popular appeal of appearing to give the public something for nothing whereas none of them are willing to develop as they are lobby for the outside to fulfil the agendas of the donor community. Not even the Government itself can exert as great influence, because in politics the purchase of influence carries the limitation of the stigma of corruption, as it does in the world of business and commerce; but in the field of philanthropy and social work it is “accepted practice” to bribe public officials with retainers, jobs and favours, because of the false inference that their lobbying is done in the public interest (Josephson, 2012).
Zimbabwe lack cohesion and social trust with non-state actors and there has been an unclear definition of the relationship between NGOs and the state in the development of rural areas Masakhaneni Projects Trust (2010). Politicians like former President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe view NGOs as the backbone of the opposition parties due to the sources of funding they have (Ncube, 2015). The loss of elections by Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanupf) in most parts of Matebeleland region has been alleged to be caused by NGOs who have been feeding the empty and neglected stomachs of the people by the party. This has polarised the relationship of the state and the civil society in the region.
According to Mashingaidze (2013) some NGOs in areas such as Matobo have been banned to operate basing on the assumption that they influenced people to vote for the opposition parties. This incompatible affair between the civil society and the state leads to the failure of the civil society as they work in fear and ends up diverging their objectives to suit the political elite’s interest and deprive the needs of the vulnerable communities who are in dire need of the interventions.
NGO innovations are diminishing, and their performance is now being measured in terms of compliance with donor priorities with little attention paid on to their partners and the benefiting communities (DOCHAS, 2008). In this regard, the donor community set conditions and priorities on the kind of programmes to be funded, hence a prime factor that requires to be investigated to get a deeper understanding.
Financial constraint is the major factor that is contributing to the failure of NGOs in executing their duties for the benefit of people. Most NGOs don’t have their own income generation projects to sustain themselves in times of financial strain and depend largely on foreign aid as a source of funding Chakawarika (2011). Financial constraints have come as result of growing numbers of NGOs, an increased competition for funding and clients in the developing countries like Zimbabwe. Most states face liquidity crunch which impinges them in attempting to rescue NGOs and states usually depends on the civil society for compliments under such circumstances.
Chakawarika (2011) cites that legal matters have always compromised the activities of NGOs in spite of the available of funding since they are made to divert their objectives to suit the current state policies of a country in order to minimise antagonism. NGOs in rural areas have faced passive support from the community members. Usually women are the most involved and willing to participate in the projects being run by NGOs as man regards such things as a worst of time due to the failure for the project goals and objectives to address the expected demands at hand. Lack of participation can be attributed to what Jones (1977) as quoted in Mwansa (1995) described as uncoordinated and self-seeking missions which makes their activities unclear. In the same clause, Mwansa (1995) goes on to say that some states are preoccupied to observe and analyse the works of NGOs and such scenarios increase resistance from the communities who have no one to encourage them to cooperate.
Tittle Author Major Finding Lessons learnt
Contribution by the NGOs: A major group sector on Africa and Sustainable Development’ Bassey N. Role of NGOs in socio-economic development NGOs are perceived by the rural community as the reliable agencies for leading socio-economic development than the governments.
Role of NGOs in Socio Economic
Development of Rural India Shinde A and Patil R A. (2010) History of NGOs, Types of NGOs and Role of NGO is socio-economic development Major roles had been played by NGOs in rural socio-economic development. Evolution of NGOs dates as far from the late 19th century.

‘Challenges Facing Local NGOs in Resource Mobilization’. Humanities and Social Science, 2 (3) pp. 57-64. Batti, C.R. (2014) Challenges of NGOs Need for NGOs to have alternative ways to source funding for sustainability of their projects in the event of end of international funding
Non-Governmental Organizations. University of Colorado Boulder. Colorado. Career Service Centre for Community (2011). Types of NGOs Classification of NGOs with their activities
‘Challenges faced by NGOs in the Political harsh climate of Zimbabwe: Analysing the effects on sustainability and promotion of human rights,’ Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfilment for the Degree: Masters in Human Rights Practice, University of Gothenburg. Chakawarika, B. (2011) State and Civil society organisation relations NGOs ends up shifting their objectives to suits the needs of the current state political situation
‘Can NGOs contribute to Socio-Economic Transformation in Zimbabwe?’ Analysing Historical Trends and Gazing into the Future, in de Visser, J, Steytler, N. and Naison Machingauta, N. (eds.) (2010) NGOs reform in Zimbabwe: A Policy Dialogue, University of the Western Cape, Community Law Centre.
Chatiza, K. (2010) Role of NGOs in transformation of socio-economic development Lack of proper funding and conditions of the donors have made it difficult for NGOs to transform the rural communities.

‘Rural Community: Top 10 Characteristics of the Rural Community– Explained’. Mondal, P Characteristics of rural community Rural community are still deprived of their rights such as accessibility of socio-economic amenities because of their geographical location.
The Emerging Role of NGOs IN Rural development of India: An Assessment Ramakrishna H Engagement of NGOs in multifarious activities
Participation of rural communities in NGOs project planning and implementation
NGOs are important institutional actors in mobilizing community assets, motivating people and implementing socio-economic programs effectively at the grassroots

In an attempt to answer the research question, this study has adopted a Systems theory propounded by Ludwig von Bertalanffy in 1945. Von Bertalanffy’s ideas were based on the Leibnitzian, rather than Lockean concept of man (Weckowicz, 2000) of which the Leibnitzian concept envisaged man as a creative, striving agent rather than as passive one, only reacting to and reflecting the environment. This concept is cemented by the concept of endogenous or self-centred development (Dembele, 2013). Tamus, Yukon and Ontario (2000) alluded that the General System Theory, which was developed by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, provides an analytical framework which can be used to describe some of the many factors involved in community development and key concerns in community development, such as assessing power and influence, understanding the dynamics of inter-group relationships, and considering the changes involved in planning development activities, can be understood and described using System Theory. Hence only those who dwell in a given community has the capacity to determine what they need as Professor Joseph Ki-Zerbo quoted by Dembele (2013) for said that;
‘If we develop ourselves, it is by drawing from the elements of our own development, and we do not develop- we develop ourselves.’
According to von Betalanffy’s theory, developmental processes are controlled by certain very general laws which can be summed up by the three principles of the endogenous which are;
The necessity of relying on one’s own strength
Mass participation in politics with the goal of changing one’s condition in life
The emancipation of women and their inclusion in the processes of development
The use of the State as an instrument for economic and social transformation
Hence it has been informed that the endogenous approach can help to come up with the most relevant measures to solve the problem of poverty in the communities. Shivji (2007) wrote that, because many NGOs do provide much needed services, because their motives are often honourable, because they employ capable and often progressive staff, there has been a reluctance amongst many to discuss critically the objective impact of their work as distinct from the subjective motives behind their work. Shivji (2007) says the African people, who were once supposed to be the authors and drivers of development and liberators of their nations, are reduced to the category of ‘the chronically poor’ and hence the ‘poor’, the diseased, the disabled, the Aids-infected, the ignorant, the marginalised, in short the ‘people’ – are not part of the development equation, since development is assigned to the private capital that constitutes the ‘engine of growth’ Shivji (2007).
The Systems theory advocates for community members as owners of a society, to be the finest ones in understanding their problems and inputting their strength, resources and spirit in the fight against poverty can become a reality. Foreign aid is needed but if it has an irrelevant agenda hidden behind the orbits of the donors, then the people have a voice to say no and refuse to be a “Mr and Mrs Yes” community, subjugated in the expense of poverty to diminish their dignity. The concept of homeostasis which includes the passage of time can only be understood by elements of system which are the community members in this case (Tamus, Yukon and Ontario, 2000). Therefore this justifies the use of the systems theory which embrace inclusion in planning and designing of development projects and discourage the top-down approach to decision making by NGOs.

This chapter attempted to define an NGO although the definitions may vary depending on the purpose served by the organisation and the area of operation. NGOs are usually located in urban centres which act as administration zones and most of them are funded by foreign donors to dispense the aid funds to the communities which makes their activities to stand guided by the donor community. This chapter has given a critical analysis of the roles, challenges, demands of the communities and a theoretical framework. The next chapter outlines how the study was conducted so as to measure the concept of socio-economic development of rural communities.

References Action Centre La Faim International Framework (2006) Zimbabwe: Insight into the Humanitarian Crisis and Food Politics, Study Report.
Bassey, N. (2008) ‘Contribution by the NGOs major group sector on Africa and Sustainable Development’. United Nations, New York Working Paper Series Number 3.
Batti, C.R. (2014) ‘Challenges Facing Local NGOs in Resource Mobilization’. Humanities and Social Science, 2 (3) pp. 57-64.
Cerulli, G. (2006). The Redistributive Role of Non-profit Organizations. Munich Personal RePEc ArchiveMPRA Paper No. 28.
Chatiza, K. (2010) ‘Can NGOs Steer Socio-Economic Transformation in Zimbabwe?’ Analysing Historical Trends and Gazing into the Future, in de Visser, J, Steytler, N. and Naison Machingauta, N. (eds.) (2010) Local government reform in Zimbabwe: A Policy Dialogue, University of the Western Cape, Community Law Centre.
DOCHAS (2008) ‘A Wave of Change: How Irish NGOs Will Sink or Swim’, A Discussion Paper on the Future roles and relevance of Ireland’s Development NGOs.
Government of Zimbabwe (2013) ‘Constitution Amendment (No. 20) Act.’ Harare, Government Printer
Government of Zimbabwe (2013) ‘Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-economic Transformation (ZimAsset): Towards an Empowered Economy.’ Harare, Government Printer.
Makoba, J. W. (2002). ‘Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOS) and Third World Development: An Alternative Approach to Development.’ Journal of Third World Studies; Spring2002, Vol. 19 Issue 1, p53.
Masakhaneni Projects Trust (2010) Annual Progress Report, January-December 2010.
Martens, J. and Seitz, K. (2015). Philanthropic Power and Development: Who shapes the Agenda? Bischöfliches Hilfswerk Misereor. Germany.

Moyo, D. (2009). Dead Aid: Why Aid Makes Things worse and how there is Another Way for Africa. Penguin Books. New York. USA.

Moyo, S, Makumbe, J, ; Raftopolous, B. 2000. NGOs in Rural Poverty Alleviation: Zimbabwe Case Study. Overseas Development Institute. London
Oxfam. (2009). Enhancing Food and Livelihoods Security in Zimbabwe, Nutrition Network, London.

Ramakrishna, H. (2013). ‘The Emerging Role of NGOs IN Rural development of India: An Assessment.’ International Journal of Social Science ; Interdisciplinary Research, Vol. 2 (4), APRIL (2013).

Suharko (2007). ‘The Roles of NGOs in Rural Poverty Reduction: The Case of Indonesia and India.’ Nagoya University. Japan. Discussion paper No.160.

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