Doctoral studies

Doctoral thesis: Estonian NGO contributes to the development of vulnerable rural communities in Ghana

Seth Amofah

Tallinn University School of Governance, Law and Society doctoral student Seth Amofah investigated the mechanisms and processes used in the  development cooperation between Estonia’s largest international NGO, MTÜ Mondo and communities in the Nabdam District of the Upper East Region of Ghana to achieve sustainable livelihood. He discovered cultural and financial bottlenecks but also a succesful model for a NGO operations
International development relationships between governments or organizations from the developed and the developing world have over the years been donor-recipient ones. A new trend of mutual cooperation has however emerged in recent times. Seth Amofah’sdoctoral thesis focuses on a cooperation that is built on mutuality. The study employed an ethnographic case study approach and used field observations, interviews and document review as data collection medium in Estonia and in Ghana. 
Amofah discovered that NGO Mondo didn't have huge funding as compared to some of the multinational NGOs, yet it operated well organized programs that focused on sustainable development. This yielded significant results mainly due to the operational mechanisms applied. The NGO and their local partners applied a multiplicity of programs concurrently that ensured quick outcomes and sustainability in the long term. They also ensured that they used professionals as their main field volunteers. “What” and “how” were important pillars of the partnership. The “what” looked at the specific projects and activities that were implemented and the “how” examined the ways in which the projects ran in the development cooperation. For instance, the projects that targeted women entrepreneurs created a platform for transforming local resources into products for the wider international market that earned more income and at the same time gave recognition and social capital to the partners.  

In all these, since different organizations, individuals, cultures and interests were interrelating, conflicts and tensions were eminent. Two main conflict areas identified in the study were financial and intercultural bottlenecks. The financial strings related to the issue of the “terms and conditions” attached to the funding received for projects and the intercultural knots were the interferences that occurred during the operations between the different cultures involved in the development cooperation.
Amofah offers in his thesis an additional effective approach to available resources that could yield sustainable poverty reduction outcomes and results. The study shows that the emerging development cooperation contributes to national policies and localized activities that have wider implications for future development of vulnerable rural communities. The drafting and implementation of the Estonian African Strategy was influenced by the activities of Estonian organizations working on the African continent including Mondo’s work in Ghana.  Aside from the study’s contribution to the body of knowledge and theoretical understanding in development sociology, the results from this independent research adds up to the accountability on the use and benefits of funding  NGOs receive for projects.

Seth Amofah  from the School of Governance, Law and Society will defended the doctoral thesis  "Emerging development cooperation for poverty alleviation: a study of an Estonian NGO in Ghana" on March 13. Thesis supervisor was Triin Roosalu, Associate Professor at Tallinn University and opponents were Aet Annist, Senior Researcher at Tartu University Emmanuel Kumi, Research Fellow at Ghana University