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Home arrow Environment arrow Saving the Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Organizational Dynamics and Effectiveness of NGOs in Cameroon
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Plan of the Book

Chapter 2 provides a review ofliterature relevant to our inquiry. Major topics include (1) interest group theory, including a discussion of the free rider problem; (2) social movement theories, including resource mobilization theory, new social movements theory, and theories of political opportunity structure; (3) literature about African political systems, including sections about government revenues, clientism, corruption, ethnic, religious, and regional divisions, weak government, tendencies toward oligarchy, and political instability; (4) theories of civil society, and (5) theories of organizations, including open systems models, resource dependence theory, and institutional approaches. For each body of literature, we provide both a summary and an evaluation of its utility for understanding environmental NGOs.

Chapter 3 provides an overview of our research methods, including our use of existing studies, collection of documentary materials from NGOs, and interviews with NGO leaders. We describe in detail our methods for selecting the 52 NGOs studied and our interviewing and coding procedures. This chapter also explains the procedure we used to differentiate the Type I Cameroonian NGOs from the Type II NGOs.

Chapter 4 contains two closely related sections. The first profiles Cameroon’s geography and topography, climate, major ecological zones, and demography. The second section describes the extent and maj or causes of the country’s most significant environmental problems. These include deforestation, declining biodiversity, soil erosion and loss of soil fertility, desertification, water shortages and water pollution, air pollution, solid waste disposal, and coastal issues.

Chapter 5 provides additional background for understanding the NGOs by describing in detail the economic, political, and social context in which they operate. Following a summary treatment of Cameroon’s economic history, the section on economics looks at the structure of the economy, major industries and occupations, the formal and informal economies, unemployment and underemployment, the distribution of wealth, women in the economy, and differences between the economic status of Francophone and Anglophone Cameroon. The section on politics also begins with a brief history before moving on to describe relevant aspects of contemporary Cameroonian politics. These include the following: (1) the pronounced centralization of power; (2) mechanisms for the maintenance of elite control; (3) the problem of corruption; (4) citizen discontent and opposition parties, including the special complaints of Anglophone areas; (5) chronic underfinancing of government and its consequences; (6) local politics; (7) environmental legislation and its enforcement; and (8) the status of civil society and NGOs. Also included in this chapter is a section on relevant aspects of Cameroonian social structure, including ethnicity and tribal divisions and gender and family structure.

Chapter 6 profiles the NGOs studied. It first examines their founding, any periods of inactivity, the number and types of employees, and their self-reported strengths and weaknesses. Funding shortages emerge as the key problem, especially for Type II NGOs. We then look at the organizations’ goals, at goal changes and at how NGOs choose their goals, and at the factors that influence their choices. The chapter also reports the various activities that the NGOs carry out in order to reach their goals. Finally, we look at interviewees’ reports about the NGOs’ degree of success in reaching their goals and the hindrances they see in their way.

Chapter 7 explores the chronic underfunding of Cameroon’s environmental NGO sector, including its causes and consequences. The chapter first examines the major obstacles to obtaining adequate funding and the NGOs’ major sources of funding. The chapter then describes in detail the problems that chronic funding shortages produce and the vicious circle that underfunding creates for Type II NGOs. Finally, the chapter explores problems associated with the sector’s high dependence on international funding, including the impact of funder preferences on NGO goals and the burdens of proposal and report preparation. In this connection, we also examine claims that some NGOs are “briefcase NGOs,” set up by their founders as shell organizations designed merely to harvest donor funds.

In Chapter 8 , we examine the relationships between environmental NGOs and national and local government. The chapter also looks at occasional government interference with NGO activities, the types of government support the NGOs receive, the quality of the NGOs’ relationships with government, and the kinds of problems they experience in their dealings with government.

Chapter 9 examines the NGOs’ relationships with the local communities in which they operate. There has been far more research about this topic than the others we cover, so the chapter begins with an overview of previous findings about this topic. The remainder of the chapter draws on data from our 52 NGOs to examine the assistance that the NGOs receive from the communities where they work, the self-reported quality of their relationships with these communities, and the types of problems the NGOs encounter in working with them. We also look at the types of groups and organizations within the communities with which the NGOs partner, as well as the types of assistance they receive and the problems they encounter in these relationships.

Chapter 10 focuses on the relationships—including both mutually supportive and competitive relationships—between the NGOs studied and other international and Cameroonian NGOs. The chapter looks at the kinds of environmental NGOs, including associations and networks of NGOs, with which the NGOs we studied have contact, the nature of these contacts, and the types of cooperation and mutual assistance they entail. Also included are interviewee reports about the quality of their relationships with other NGOs and the kinds of difficulties that arise within these relationships.

The final chapter includes two major sections. The first, longer section, intended primarily for academic readers, discusses the study’s contributions to the literature and its implications for the refinement and further development of theory. The second section, directed toward manager and practitioners, describes the study’s implications for praxis and offers some suggestions for how NGO structures, strategies, and activities might be modified to increase the effectiveness of individual NGOs and the NGO sector.

 
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