Sectoral Programmes – Where’s The ‘Power’?

One of the key limitations of NGO planning processes lies in their over reliance on tools such as SWOT. I have talked before about the self-indulgent limitations of this tool (especially Strengths and Weaknesses which encourages an unusual degree of self congratulation), but it also holds within it a lack of rigour which often produces a superficial so-called external analysis. Such an analysis is often limited to a review of potential institutional donors (the ‘Opportunities), as well as the potential of said donors withdrawing their support if they are currently supporting programmes (the ‘Threats’). It is all aimed at largely supporting the status quo, with few NGOs daring to step into the realm (for example) of assessing private sector initiatives to alleviate poverty through the provision of employment, no matter how temporary or even badly paid. NGOs tend to stick to what they know best – the civil society ‘sector’. While there is nothing wrong with this as a starting point, it results in external analysis approaches being based on what is already known rather than exploring what is not. The engagement of a sectoral analysis tool such as Porter’s Five Forces ( can easily be adapted by NGOs to dig ever deeper into any issue – digging and digging until the real drivers of poverty are identified and addressed