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Organising and Representing the Poor in a Clientelistic Democracy: the Decline of Radical NGOs in Bangladesh
This talk examines the political role of radical development NGOs that emerged in Bangladesh to challenge the marginalisation of subordinate groups and strengthen democratic processes.
After briefly introducing the political context of Bangladesh and its NGOs, the activities of these organisations and their subsequent decline will be discussed. This decline is explained by three inter-related factors: (i) an institutional setting dominated by clientelistic structures that have undermined efforts to build horizontal alliances among excluded groups in civil society, or links between NGOs and political parties; (ii) a shift in donor support from mobilisation to market-based service delivery agencies; and (iii) internal structures that have generated legitimacy and accountability problems by encouraging elite capture, co-option and personalised leadership in the radical sub-sector. It concludes with some brief reflections on the main implications of these failures.