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Background of the Study

Globally, NGOs have a significant impact on political development worldwide, as they drive change, promote social justice, and support democratic governance. NGOs play a crucial role in bridging the gap between civil society and government. They have the power to shape policies, advocate for human rights, and empower citizens to participate in decision-making. According to Edwards and Hulme (2021), Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are a varied and ever-evolving collection of entities, covering a broad spectrum of organizations. This includes advocacy groups, humanitarian agencies, environmental organizations, and development NGOs. They engage in a wide range of sectors, including education, healthcare, environmental conservation, and human rights. These entities are united by their dedication to addressing social, economic, and political issues, often through collaboration with local communities, governments, and international partners. 

Intriguingly, The core of NGO involvement in political development centres around the pursuit of democratic values and principles. Lewis (2020) argued that NGOs play a crucial role in monitoring government actions, championing the rights of marginalized communities, and fostering transparency and accountability in governance. NGOs facilitate citizen engagement in political processes, ranging from local elections to national policy-making, by employing civic education, grassroots mobilisation, and advocacy campaigns. In a study by Acho-chi (2018), it was noted that grass-roots representation adds credibility and helps mobilize communities for programmes and initiatives. NGO participation in enhancing government services, acting as strategic allies for ministries focused on reform, addressing service deficiencies, and assisting the government in establishing connections with local communities contributes to the strengthening of the state. NGOs are held internally accountable by beneficiaries, donors, the board of directors, trustees, and advisory committees. They are answerable to the various organisations and individuals they are associated with, such as international government agencies, states, and individuals from around the globe. 

Clearly, the political landscape of Cameroon has experienced notable changes since achieving independence from colonial rule in 1960. Cameroon has undergone several political changes since gaining independence, including shifts in leadership, constitutional reforms, and socio-political movements. Amidst these transformations, the emergence of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) has played a crucial role in shaping the country's political development. Yudame (2021) highlights the impact of state downsizing and shifting political dynamics on civil society in Cameroon. The role of international and local NGOs in combating escalating poverty is emphasised. Efforts towards achieving social justice and liberalization have given rise to various initiatives that hold promise for the development of the state.  In a study conducted by Yenshu (2018), it was found that Cameroon has been undergoing economic restructuring for the past two decades. The implementation of economic reforms and structural adjustment programmes resulted in the state's inability to fulfil its responsibility of providing social amenities. The lack of state capacity to improve the well-being of the population and provide adequate services has resulted in the proliferation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Cameroon, specifically in the North-west Province. 

According to Andoniki (2022), NGOs have taken on a more prominent role in development discourse and practice as governments have become less involved in local development. The expansion of the NGO sector is closely linked to the emergence of a significant agreement led by international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF. This agreement emphasizes the importance of political democracy, good governance, economic liberalization, reducing the role of the state, and promoting private sector involvement. Merger (2020) emphasized that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play a crucial role as catalysts for change and facilitators of development aid within civil society. According to Smith (2018), NGOs in Cameroon have fulfilled various roles, including advocating for human rights, promoting democratic governance, providing social services, and implementing community development initiatives. These organisations frequently act as intermediaries between the government and civil society, expressing the concerns of marginalized groups and advocating for policy reforms to tackle socio-political challenges. Johnson and Mbaku (2019) highlighted the significance of NGOs in promoting civic engagement and political participation among citizens, particularly marginalized communities. They also emphasized the crucial role played by NGOs in enhancing transparency and accountability within the government, thus contributing to the strengthening of democracy.  Scholars have noted the importance of NGOs in Cameroon's political landscape. The emergence of NGOs in Cameroon has been shaped by various factors, including socio-economic disparities, ethnic tensions, and governance deficits. Additionally, international donor support and transnational networks have enabled NGOs to access resources and advocacy platforms, thereby enhancing their influence on Cameroon's political development. Nevertheless, the government's concerns regarding foreign-funded NGOs, along with the implementation of restrictive legislation, have limited the opportunities for civil society actors to operate effectively and hindered their ability to drive political change. Given the dynamics at play, it is crucial for policymakers, civil society actors, and scholars to comprehend the significance and influence of NGOs in the political development of Cameroon.The researcher explores the evaluation of the role of non-governmental organizations in Cameroon's political development. The study focuses on selected NGOs as a case study.

 Statement of the Problem

The current involvement of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the political development of Cameroon raises significant concerns that require thorough examination. In a study conducted by Acho-chi (2018), it was highlighted that NGOs in Cameroon face significant obstacles that hinder their ability to effectively contribute to governance and democracy. These challenges have a direct impact on the extent to which NGOs can influence the political landscape of Cameroon. In addition, the regulatory framework surrounding NGOs in Cameroon poses a considerable challenge. The operational space for civil society organizations is limited due to restrictive legislation and bureaucratic hurdles imposed by the government. This hampers their ability to engage in advocacy, monitor governmental actions, and promote democratic governance. 

In addition, Nyang'oro (2019) highlighted the funding and financial sustainability challenges faced by NGOs in Cameroon. Numerous non-governmental organizations heavily depend on external donor support, rendering them susceptible to changes in donor priorities and fluctuations in funding. This reliance undermines their independence and hinders their ability to effectively tackle long-term political development challenges. In a recent study, Sandberg (2023) shed light on the way civil society becomes politicized in developing nations, leading to increased tensions between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the government. The credibility and effectiveness of civil society in advocating for political reform and accountability are undermined by political repression, harassment, and intimidation of activists and organizations critical of the government.

While anecdotal evidence suggests their importance, empirical studies examining the tangible outcomes of NGO interventions in political development remain limited Against this backdrop, the study seeks to fill the gap on the significance of  non-governmental organization in Cameroon's political development: a case study of selected NGO'S.

1.3 Objective of the study

The aim of this study is focused on an evaluation of the significance of  non governmental organization in Cameroon's political development: a case study of selected NGO'S. Specifically, the study seeks to:

To assess the contributions of NGOs to political development in Cameroon.

To identify the key challenges faced by NGOs operating within Cameroon's political landscape.

To examine how the challenges faced by NGOs affects their involvement in political processes.

To explore strategies for enhancing the role of NGOs in promoting democratic governance and political accountability in Cameroon.

1.4 Research Questions

What are the specific contributions of NGOs to political development in Cameroon?

What are the key challenges faced by NGOs operating within Cameroon's political landscape?

What are the challenges faced by NGOs  affects their involvement in political processes?

What potential strategies can be devised to strengthen the capacity and impact of NGOs in fostering democratic governance and political accountability in Cameroon?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

Ho: There is no significant contribution of Non governmenation organaization contributions of NGOs to political development in Cameroon.

Ha: There is a significant contribution of Non governmenation organaization contributions of NGOs to political development in Cameroon.

1.6 Significance of the Study

Findings of this study will be helpful for various stakeholders, including policymakers, civil society actors, and academics. To policymakers, the study will provides valuable insights fo shaping governance policies. By identifying the challenges faced by NGOs and their contributions to political development, policymakers can craft more effective regulations and support mechanisms to enhance civil society's role in governance processes.Furthermore, By examining the challenges and opportunities faced by NGOs, the study can inform strategies to strengthen democratic institutions and practices in Cameroon. This can lead to a more inclusive and transparent political system.

To civil societies and donors, the study will enighten them on the need to brace up in the face of challenges and empower theem by highlighting their importance and advocating for their rights to operate freely within the legal framework. More so, given the increasing interconnectedness of global issues, the study of NGOs in Cameroon's political development has relevance beyond national borders. Insights gained from this study can inform international donor agencies and organizations about effective strategies for supporting civil society and democratic governance initiatives in other contexts.

Empiricaally, the study contributes to academic scholarship by filling gaps in knowledge regarding the role of NGOs in African political contexts, particularly in Cameroon. It provides a foundation for further research and analysis in the fields of political science, international development, and civil society studies.

1.7 Scope of the Study

The scope of this study borders on on an evaluation of the significance of  non governmental organization in Cameroon's political development. The empirical scope will cover the historical context of NGOs' involvement in Cameroon's political development, tracing their evolution since independence, their contributions and challenges faced by NGOs in the present-day political environment. The geographical scope of the study primarily focuses on selected Non governmental organizations in North West region of Cameroon.

1.8 Limitation of the Study

Despite its importance and potential contributions, the study on the significance of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Cameroon's political development may encounter several limitations. Expediently, the reliance on certain data sources, such as NGO reports, survey with NGO representatives, or secondary sources, may introduce bias into the study. As some NGOs may have vested political interests or agendas that could influence the information they provide, leading to potential biases in the analysis. More so,  the data used for the analysis was drawn from primary surveys of some international and national NGOs operating in the North-west Province of Cameroon The findings of the study may have limited generalizability beyond the specific context of Cameroon. Despite these limitations, the researcher will acknowledge and address these challenges transparently to enhance the credibility and rigor of the study on NGOs' significance in Cameroon's political development.

1.9 Definition of Terms

Non-Governmental Organization (NGO): An NGO is a non-profit, voluntary organization that operates independently of government control and is typically formed to address social, political, environmental, or humanitarian issues. NGOs often advocate for specific causes, provide services, or engage in development projects to promote social change and community welfare.

Political Development: Political development refers to the processes and changes that occur within a society's political system over time. This includes the evolution of political institutions, practices, norms, and behaviors aimed at enhancing governance effectiveness, democratic principles, and citizen participation in decision-making processes.

Civil Society: Civil society encompasses the array of non-governmental, non-market organizations and institutions that exist outside of the state and the market. It includes NGOs, community-based organizations, advocacy groups, professional associations, religious groups, and other voluntary associations that play a role in shaping public discourse, influencing policy, and promoting societal well-being.

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research


  • Reference(s):

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  • Methodology: Yes available

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