Development NGO accountability? (fwd)

Victor Guest vic at
Tue Jan 6 08:13:44 EST 1998

Reply-To: Conference "chrm.general" <chrm-general at>
From: baphillips at
Sender: root at

As a practicing lawyer for some two decades (ending 1981), I watched what
damage suits did to American society. It included closing most public
swimming pools and many playgrounds. It also included such things as the
impossibility of buying a rare hamburger in a restaurant -- got to kill the
ecoli -- or non-pasturized freshly-pressed apple juice -- the recent Adwalla
scare. The visibility of work-related injuries led to OSHA which has done
two things: made workplaces on the whole much safer and significantly raised
the cost of doing business in many industires. Perhaps it has also given
Americans a sense that they're being watched. But the price of work injuries
has declined. 

I hate litigation. I hate it because it is always backward-looking.  And
lawsuits take years to conclude. They are very, very expensive to mount
effectively -- much more so than when I was a baby lawyer. $100,000 would be
a drop in the bucket for the type of litigation I think you are talking
about. So, perhaps, would $1M. 

More effective by far would be using something like the www to disseminate
"countdown" information on various sites. For example, falling water tables
could be measured and reported upon at regular intervals -- annually or
half-yearly, at the same time each year. One would have to select what kind
of information to gather, how to measure the changes, and then devise an
effective way to report them. If coming from respected sources, the
information would have more impact than from an individual. Being crystal
clear about what exactly you want to raise consciousness about is the first
step. Generalities don't cut it.

The effective would be snow-balling: tiny, at first, then vast. People from
the areas reported upon would begin to find the "watch" and interest would
rise. People from areas not reported upon might draw comparisons. I would
think that in 2 or 3 years, you could change the way enough people see the
condition of the planet that you might get a "Hundredth Monkey" effect. Then
governments and NGOs would have no choice but to respond. HOW they would
respond would be trickier to manage. You might want to think about what kind
of a response you would like -- following Allan's model and having a clearly
expressed goal -- before beginning.


Kenn von Hoffman wrote : 
>I was wondering whether anyone had any views/experience on the idea and
>practicality of making development agencies, governmental and
>non-governmental (NGO's) in the developing world accountable for their
>actions,  for many of their so-called agricultural improvements.
>E.g. Notifying them that if they initiate a potentially detrimental scheme,
> warning them of the long term consequences, and that if they persist and
>the consequences do turn out be negative, then they will face legal action.
Barbara Ashley Phillips
Clear Creek Gardens & Game, Inc.
Rt. 1 Box 138
Post Office Box 676
Halfway, Oregon 97834
Phone office: (541) 742-6558  ranch operations: (541) 742-2238 Fax: (541)
Email  baphillips at
Website: http://www. (B&B Inn) and 
        (Hells Canyon Bison)

More information about the permaculture mailing list