Factors Influencing the Extent to Which Child Rights NGOs In Tanzania Adopt Rights-Based Approaches

2018-02-08T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Amana Talala Mbise
The purpose of this study was to assess the extent to which local nongovernmental organizations in Tanzania adopt rights-based approaches. In addition, it attempted to identify internal and external factors associated with the degree of adoption of the rights-based approach. The rights-based approach calls for increased attention to the roles of nongovernmental organizations as advocates rather than direct service providers. Informed by innovation adoption and social development perspectives, the study employed a quantitative approach to survey a sample of local organizations focusing on child rights in Tanzania to assess the extent to which factors such as having a supportive leadership, NGO’s staff capacity on child rights, NGO’s source of funding, NGO’s religious association, geographical location, perception of national policy/legal system, and community perceptions of child rights, influence the extent to which NGOs adopt rights-based approaches in their work. The study shows that receiving funding from both international and internal sources and how an NGO perceives the policy/legal framework for children in Tanzania, are important external (institutional) factors for predicting the extent to which local child rights NGOs adopt rights-based approaches. Contrary to the initial hypothesis, and some recent research on adoption of rights-based approaches in Africa, receiving funding from international sources only does not seem to have a strong influence on the adoption of rights-based approaches in this sample of local NGOs. This signifies a pragmatic and adaptive mechanism by local organizations to shifts in the global aid paradigms by diversifying their sources of funding. Likewise, NGOs with a more favorable view of the policy/legal framework for children are found to adopt rights-based approaches to a greater extent than those with a less favorable view. This study also shows us that internal factors, particularly leadership support and staff capacity to implement rights-based approaches, are important predictors of adoption of rights-based approaches. Motivating and supporting employees to learn about, and use, rights-based approaches, are important predictors of adoption of rights-based approaches by local child rights NGOs in Tanzania. On the other hand, the study demonstrates that rights-based approaches are not understood to mean the same thing even by organizations that are part of the same NGO Forum. In addition to having these different interpretations, NGOs are also engaged in a selective process choosing to appropriate different elements of the rights-based approaches that are most salient to their local cultural contexts and program objectives. Lastly, this group of NGOs have shown us that there has not been a complete move from needs based approaches to rights-based approaches. Some of the organizations in the Forum see rights-based approaches as the provision of services thereby highlighting the necessity for direct service provision as part of the rights-based agenda. These local NGOs help us to place the notion of rights-based approaches to more scrutiny with regards to its relevance and applicability in a context characterized by high resource dependence and poverty. In addition, they help us to see the rights-based approaches and needs based approaches as perhaps lying on a continuum of rights and services. The study concludes with a discussion of implications for social work practice, education, research and policy.