In order to be successful, NGOs must “remove the binoculars and put on a kaleidoscope,” said Stephan Bognar
, executive director of the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation
(MJP), in an interview with ECSP. “Although we have thousands of NGOs out there, we need to start working as one team, one voice, to implement development programs. Otherwise, we are still going to be in a poverty trap.”
The Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation is a Cambodia-based conservation NGO founded by Angelina Jolie in 2003 with the mission of eradicating extreme rural poverty, protecting natural resources, and conserving wildlife. MJP takes an integrated approach to rural development, combining community-based health, education, agriculture, and development projects with park conservation projects to best serve communities and their environment.
“One of the largest problems NGOs face are lack of funds,” said Bognar. This often prevents them from implementing integrated development projects. “They’re so focused on one component that they’re forgetting to link with the other NGOs.” But even if NGOs can’t get the funding to operate in multiple sectors by themselves, he said, it’s their “responsibility” to partner with other NGOS that have the skills and expertise to address other factors of rural development.
Despite best intentions, Bognar said, NGOs often become “so disconnected from the other sectors that within a few years their own program will implode.” NGOs must “reach out and look at the program outside of their lens,” he said. “Breaking down these barriers” is key to successful development work.