The role of non-governmental organisations in rural development
Keywords: rural development, non-governmental organisations, LEADER action groups, National Rural Strategy Concept
Debates on non-governmental organisations were constantly on the agenda in the period after the transformation of the country’s political system. Currently a new framework law is being developed, which might put an end to the debate on the definition of NGOs. The National Rural Strategy Concept outlining the future directions of rural development envisions a strong NGO sector instead of the weak one currently depicted by literature and statistics. It plans to include NGOs committed to rural development in the drawing up of development programmes and solutions to the crisis of the countryside. The role of rural non-governmental organisations in Hungary, however, is still unclear, even though it would be pertinent information for planning. Empirical surveys concluded in the southern part of the Transdanubian region indicated that “stabile, active and open” NGOs had the best chances of being included in the programming process. Their role, however, goes farther than the creation of development programmes and the finding of solutions to the crisis of the countryside, as they may be extremely helpful in mobilising rural populations. There exist LEADER action groups as well, which meet the above expectations based on their current role. It is unclear, however, to what extent these action groups, which include representatives of the municipal and business spheres as well, can be considered genuine non-governmental organisations.