The social sector, also called the public sector, has undergone various reforms in an attempt to align it to global standards of donor dictates; this sector is primarily driven by donors, at times against the will or wishes of the recipients.
The donor money to the social sector in Africa covers a range of community initiatives including but not limited to education, health, wildlife conservation, advocacy, governance, justice among others. There exist thousands of non-governmental organizations, popularly known as NGO’s dotting the breadth of Africa. Some of these NGO’s have been noted to do a commendable job while others have been accused of being avenues of siphoning donor money from the unsuspecting donors; which is why it has been reported in the press at times that less than 25% of funds intended to help the poor actually reach them while the rest is embezzled.
It is important to acknowledge the importance of culture and community context in dealing with the social sector, because at times local values contradict the intent of donor initiatives; a good example is the social sector push for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights which have received condemnation from the religious groups and governments.
Most of the donor money is addressing challenges which ideally should be addressed by local governments or communities; there has been so much debate on the role of the social sector particularly given that most donor money is from outside of Africa. Some have argued to the support of the social sector driven by donor money from the west while other have vehemently argued against this, highlighting the unreasonable high level of corruption which still hinders growth in Africa as being the reason for the reliance on donor money. They argue that governments and local communities should instead focus their efforts on reducing public wastage and introducing public accountability for public resources from state officers.
There is need to revisit the role of donors while at the same time creating a credible social sector; ownership of community reform programmes by African governments and other stakeholders is an absolute necessity for the posterity of the African fast rising population, which is largely poor despite the so many NGO’s trying to address the poverty situation in Africa. This is considering the fact that even regional bodies like African Union as well as others like IGAD, SADC, ECOWAS are funded by western countries or European Union to the tune of billions of dollars each year.