This paper argues that Northern non-governmental development organisations (NGDOs) are immensely varied in terms of policy, value system and approaches to poverty. Consequently, it is problematic to generalise concerning whether Northern NGDOs either include or exclude the destitute in engaging with Southern counterparts. The reality is somewhat confusing. The evidence suggests that each Northern NGDO has some ways in which they are inclusive, and some ways in which they are not, giving credence to the position that the NGDO sector is not homogenous. NGDOs, extreme poverty and inclusion are defined within the paper. A brief exploration is made of approaches to extreme poverty, inclusion and the influences on NGDO policy. Evidence is then taken from the field to explore some NGDOs' engagement in including those often excluded by so-called NGDO development programmes. The gaps between policy and practice of NGDOs is then discussed. A suggestion is made whereby NGDOs might be more inclusive in their policy and their reach to the most poor. This is that rights approaches to development are increasingly being researched and transposed into policy. An explanation of rights approaches and their potential implications for inclusion of the extremely poor then follows. Some examples, experiences and research into the adoption of this approach by Northern NGDOs are then offered.
What role do NGOs play in alleviating chronic poverty? Northern NGDOs, inclusion and extreme poverty, presented at Staying Poor: Chronic Poverty and Development Policy, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, 7-9 April 2003. Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, 27 pp.