Does NGO aid reach the poor? Field based evidence from Ghana

Eric Opoku


Mostly relying on cross-country studies and often limited data, research on the allocation of NGO aid remains inconclusive. Whiles some studies (Nunnenkamp et al 2008; Dreher et al 2007; Nancy & Yontcheva 2006) suggest poverty as a significant determinant of NGO aid,   Fruttero and Gauri (2005) notes that NGOs’ association with donors influence the allocation of their aid and it appears they do not locate in areas most in need. Empirically evidence on whether NGO aid reach the poor is hugely lacking. The fact that some evidence shows NGO aid go to poor countries does not automatically mean, it reaches the poor people and communities in these countries. Nunnenkamp et al. (2008) caution against the view that aid would be better targeted to the needy and deserving if only NGOs had more resources at their disposal. If NGOs are seen and believe to be better placed to reach poor people and poor communities, then it is extremely important to interrogate whether the funds they receive actually get to the intended beneficiaries. Using field base evidence from Ghana, it emerged that NGO aid through projects actually locates in areas and communities where poverty is high but there are difference in the reach of the poor by different categories of NGO projects. Livelihood projects reach the poor more whereas microcredit projects reach them less. The assumption and belief that chunk of NGO project aid actually gets to the ultimate beneficiaries is not supported by the field evidence collected and analyzed. It emerged that just about 30.5 percent of total funds are spent directly on activities that benefit the poor. This means that even though NGOs in Ghana locates a greater proportion of their projects in communities where poverty is relatively high but a smaller proportion of the aid allocated to them actually reaches the poor.

Keywords: NGO Aid, The Poor, Ghana, Field Based Evidence

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