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Too many cooks in the kitchen? A comprehensive comparison of NGO spending and development in Nepal

Adams, Alex
There are over 51,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) registered in Nepal, yet the country continually ranks low in various measures of human development. As is the case in many developing countries, NGOs operate with limited oversight and impact evaluations that document their progress are nearly non-existent. This research proposes a method for testing the efficacy and effectiveness of NGO presence in Nepal using the remote sensing technologies and foreign aid tracking provided by the country’s government. By comparing data from validated machine learning methods that measure economic activity with NGO funding, this paper helps identify more accurately the effectiveness of NGO involvement in Nepal and provide a backcheck on its accuracy. The findings indicate that there is no significant relationship between provincial GDP, which acts as a proxy for economic development, and NGO funding. This implies that even though the provinces receive hundreds of millions of dollars each year, NGO and government aid are not the magic bullets for poverty alleviation and economic development.