Different Levels of NGO Engagement and Reactions of the Government: Assessing the Sri Lankan Experience

Indi Ruwangi Akurugoda, Patrick Barrett, Alan Simpson


Sri Lankan governments have a history of contradictory forms of engagement with NGOs and foreign donors, on the one hand embracing opportunities to work with and coordinate NGO donations for development, and on the other discouraging and rejecting more localised NGO activities. Successive governments have welcomed NGO and foreign donor funds for large scale construction projects. At the same time, with the support of Sinhala nationalist groups, governments have also portrayed NGOs and foreign donors as imperial agents. This criticism has been used against NGOs involved in the promotion and protection of human rights, especially in the war affected areas. This inconsistent behaviour of governments towards NGOs and foreign donors reflects opportunistic politics. Some NGOs and foreign donor agencies have successfully managed to navigate these contradictory government positions. Based on research in the southern and eastern provinces in Sri Lanka, this paper analyses effective NGO engagement at the local level during the post-tsunami and post-war situations. It focuses on those NGOs that have maintained government backing while also positively supporting local governance, community development and human rights.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jad.v3i2.11143


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