The role and relevance of non-government aid
: a case study of Kenya

  • Kenneth G.H. Ritchie

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


How effective are non-government organisations (NG0s) in their response to Third World poverty? That is the question which this thesis examines. The thesis begins with an overview of the problems facing Third World communities, and notes the way in which people in Britain have responded through NG0s. A second part of the thesis sets out the issues on which the analysis of NGOs has been made. These are: - the ways in which NGOs analyse the process of development; - the use of 'improving nutrition' and 'promoting self-reliance' as special objectives by NG0s; and - the nature of rural change, and the implications for NGOs as agents of rural development. Kenya is taken as a case study. Firstly the political and economic structure of the country is studied, and the natures of development, nutritional problems and self-reliance in the Kenyan context are noted. The study then focusses attention onto Kitui District, an area of Kenya which at the time of the study was suffering from drought. However, it is argued that the problems of Kitui District and the constraints to change there are as much a consequence of Kenya's structural underdevelopment as of reduced rainfall. Against this background the programmes of some British NGOs in the country are examined, and it is concluded that much of their work has little relevance to the principal problems which have been identified. A final part of the thesis takes a wider look at the policies and practices of NG0s. Issues such as the choice of countries in which NGOs work, how they are represented overseas, and their educational role in Britain are considered. It is concluded that while all NGOs have a concern for the conditions in which the poorest communities of the Third World live, many NGOs take a quite narrow view of development problems, giving only little recognition to the international and intranational political and economic systems which contribute to Third World poverty.
Date of Award1981
Original languageEnglish


  • aid
  • development
  • Kenya
  • voluntary
  • organisation

Cite this