An increasing proportion of official assistance is being channeled through NGOs, a trend starting the early 1980s. Major revisions in thinking about the justification and purpose of international aid in post-Cold War era have resulted in an expectation that NGOs as civic actors are an important institutional system which can help governmental donors achieve both sustainable development and political goals. The effects of such a move in aid policy cannot be fully predicted. it is therefore necessary to review the experiences of greater official funding to NGOs in order to identify factors which enable or constrain their effectiveness.
This study also surveys the changing relationships between Southern NGOs (SNGOs) and Northern NGOs (NNGOs) and Official Agencies (OAs) in Zimbabwe, as they adapt to, or are affected by the recent changes in the mechanisms of direct funding. It was clear, however, that direct funding is as much a term that is applied by the recipients (SNGOs) to describe funding recieved from OAs as to funding from the NNGOs or traditional donors. The issue being raised in the field is that there has always been direct funding from NNGOs and what the OAs are doing is what the NNGOs have always been doing. The difference not is the way in which the funds are administered and the mechanisms used, which changes the nature of the interaction between the actors.