Type I and Type II NGOs

We had not been in the field long before it became obvious that there were major differences among the Cameroonian environmental NGOs centered around variations in the resources they command. These differences are adumbrated but not fully described in previous research in Cameroon (Tanga and Fonchigong, 2009) and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa (e.g., Vakil, 1997; Roberts, 2000; Selolwane, 2001; Michael, 2004; Holmen, 2010); however, only Fonjong’s (2007b) Cameroonian study and Beer’s (2012) Kenyan study explore them in detail.

Fonjong’s research, which included a wide variety of NGO types, showed that many Cameroonian NGOs had a relatively small number of staffs, often hired employees on a temporary basis, employed few experts, relocated frequently in search of cheaper quarters, and mounted only small-scale projects. We encountered many environmental NGOs of this type across the country. We refer to them in this book as Type II NGOs. Beer distinguished three types of environmental NGOs. Low-capacity NGOs, which correspond well to what we term Type II NGOs, operated with minimal budgets, few or no paid employees, and funding derived mainly from donations from their own boards. They had a predominantly local focus and few international connections. High-capacity NGOs had significant budgets, numerous paid employees, more diverse sources of funds, which almost always included funds from abroad, a broader scale of operations, and more international connections. Medium-capacity NGOs occupied an intermediate position.

Our typology is similar to Beer’s except that we found relatively few representatives of his middle category. The Cameroonian-based NGOs we refer to as Type II NGOs are characterized by minimal and unstable funding, small paid staffs (and sometimes none at all), lack of technical or financial experts, inadequate office facilities (or none at all), and shortages or absence of basic office and field equipment. Type I Cameroonian NGOs displayed the opposite characteristics. Their funding, though rarely bounteous, was more ample and stable and frequently included funds from abroad. Their staffs were larger and included more experts, their offices were more commodious, their offices and field projects were better equipped, and they were more knowledgeable about and better connected to international environmentalism.

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