Are service-delivery NGOs building state capacity in the global south?: experiences from HIV/AIDS programmes in rural Uganda

Are service-delivery NGOs building state capacity in the global south?: experiences from HIV/AIDS programmes in rural Uganda

It is argued that NGOs, through their technocratic interventions, can have progressive impacts on political processes in developing countries. This paper investigates the role of service delivery NGOs in building state capacity in the global south, examining a Ugandan NGO called the AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) as a case study.

The paper illustrates that TASO is an indigenous NGO established in 1987 to contribute to a process of preventing HIV. Furthermore, the paper points that TASO had a project called the Mini-TASO Project (MTP), in which it created units which were operated indirectly through existing government hospitals.

The document clarifies that primary research into the MTP reveals that NGOs can have a constructive impact on four aspects of state capacity – bureaucratic capacity, embeddedness, territorial reach, and legitimacy. In this respect, the author finds that TASO resulted in the following achievements:

  • strengthening the bureaucratic ability of government hospitals to deliver HIV/AIDS services
  • increasing the state’s embeddedness within society through co-production
  • enhancing state legitimacy in the eyes of beneficiaries due to increased accessibility to life-saving services and improved patient–provider relationships

However, the impact of the programme on the infrastructural reach of the state in rural Uganda was not sustained beyond its implementation.

All things considered, the paper concludes that service delivery by NGOs can actually be an avenue for building more effective states.

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