Engaged or Divorced? Cross-Service Findings on Government Relations with Non-State Service Providers

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Non-state provision (NSP) of basic services is an important substitute for government services in most developing countries. The international policy environment favours the idea that service levels could be improved if government and non-state providers collaborated. This article examines the experience based on studies of basic education and healthcare, water and sanitation in six African and South Asian countries. It, finds that, while policy is now generally in support of NSP, practice is more often unsupportive and relationships are surrounded by mistrust. The main providers of non-state services-local entrepreneurs, individual practitioners, community organisations and small NGOs-are largely absent from any dialogue with government. They are exposed to forms of regulation that are largely repressive and effectively designed to protect established interests. Nevertheless, the article identifies positive examples of alternative forms of regulation that advance improved service standards, of facilitation by large NGOs acting in an intermediary role in suppon of local actors, and of replicable forms of collaboration between government and non-state providers. Copyright (c) 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-251
Number of pages11
JournalPublic Administration and Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2006


  • contracting, regulation, Africa, service provision, non-state providers, South Asia

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