The folklore about village groups or organisations formed by external agents such as NGOs for socio-economic and political empowerment is that at a certain point in their life cycle these groups attain sustainability, meaning ‘graduation’ from the NGO with the ability to continue as corporate units post-NGO withdrawal. After this point it is assumed that such groups require little or no NGO support. Underlying this notion is the assumption that poverty stems from a lack of access to scarce economic resources and that once a channel to such resources has been established it can continually be harnessed. If challenged, many development policy-makers and practitioners would agree that these assumptions are faulty. Nevertheless, the paradigm continues to exert a powerful normative influence in shaping both development policy and practice.



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