Multilateral agencies like the UN, the World Bank and others provide multilateral aid to developing countries. The significance of this type of aid is the very large scale under which it operates and provides support for addressing issues related to poverty, economic development, human rights, healthcare, peace and development and other areas.
According to the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “Working with multilateral organisations can bring…benefits” such as influence, reach and scale, global policy and standards, expertise, coordination, innovation and leverage.
Although this type of aid mostly started as a government-to-government arrangement, in the 90s, multilateral agencies started to give high priority to NGOs. The INTRAC’s Multilateral Agencies and NGOs: A Position Paper says that multilateral agencies found that large-scale government investments alone would not lead to create an impact and NGOs had to be involved at some level for bringing about deeper change.
The paper further explains, “The advantages of NGOs in development actions were seen as being relatively low cost, in direct contact with communities, lacking bureaucracy, honest, better at targeting the poor and with a proven track record, etc. Together these advantages amounted to being cost effective, efficient and having a high level of impact.”
Many of these multilateral agencies have grant programs for NGOs and regular funding calls are made. For example, the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s (IFAD) ‘Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility Small Grants Programme’, UN Women’s Gender Equality Fund, the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability are some of these grant opportunities.