Marcus Mergenthaler:
Integrating Non-Governmental Self-Financed Residential Social Care Services into the Context of Local Rural Development


University of Hohenheim, Institute for Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences in the Tropics and Subtropics, Germany

Governmental organizations in developing countries can rarely provide sufficient support for socially marginalized groups in society. Intermediate -yet unsustainable- solutions to meet the needs are apprehended by non-governmental organizations that rely on external donors. A potential mid- to long-term alternative may be the implementation of economically autonomous social institutions that rely on the contributions from affiliated small enterprises and are integrated into its socio-economic context.

The objective of the study was the analysis of the situation of a to be autonomous orphanage in the rural areas of Bolivia and the identification of strategies for a successful integration into the development of the surrounding village. Data about the orphanage and local household systems were obtained from local residents by open interviews and a standardized questionnaire. Econometric methods were applied to compare income generating strategies of local socio-economic units. An index that takes different dimensions of integration into account was used to measure integration of local household systems with local groups and the orphanage. A model was constructed to test scenarios of integration.

Resource endowment of local household systems determines their type of income generating strategy. The orphanage pursues similar income generating activities (farming) like local household systems thus being in competition with them. Operating in the same local context, the orphanage pursues also distinguished income generating strategies (reliance on transfer-payments) that are not accessible to local socio-economic units. Thus the orphanage activities have been irrelevant or hampered local income generating strategies rather than supported them in a sustainable way. This is reflected in the integration of local household systems with the orphanage which is lower than integration with other local groups. Yet potentials and areas have been identified that might serve as a basis for mutual benefits like 1) community-oriented projects of the orphanage, 2) participation and fostering networking, 3) facilitating farmer groups and/or 4) renting-out orphanage land and stopping farming-activities of the orphanage.

Keywords: Bolivia, non-governmental organizations, rural village systems, social services


Contact Address: Marcus Mergenthaler, University of Hohenheim, Institute for Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences in the Tropics and Subtropics, Fruwirthstraße 12, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, 2003