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International NGOs: networking, information flows and learning

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International non-government organisations (INGOs) are increasingly regarded as important in their capacity to influence global policy on development matters such as poverty alleviation, sustainable development, and human rights. This has been possible through their simultaneous attachment to places and local cultures on the one hand, and their critical engagement with the global on the other. With recent advances in information and communication technologies, an increasingly connected INGO community is finding consideration scope for networking and information sharing at multiple levels. However, despite the strategic advantage of INGOs in terms of their multi-level reach, their contribution to date remains limited to small-scale success stories rather than affecting large-scale development. In this paper, we emphasise the importance for INGOs to learn from the field in their quest to influence wider policy-making and improve local accountability. We argue that as their role changes from operational work to international advocacy, INGOs will have to strengthen institutional structures and learning skills to achieve a greater developmental impact.

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