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Table 1 Summary of four waves of NGO sector evolution

From: Where are the NGOs and why? The distribution of health and development NGOs in Bolivia

Wave Approximate era Defining characteristics
1st WWII to late 1960s • Small number of large, well established NGOs
• Primarily involved in emergency and conflict relief
• Religious and missionary affiliations commonplace
2nd Early 1970s to early 1980s • Role expanded beyond emergency and conflict relief
• Community level work employing participatory approaches commonplace
3rd Mid/early 1980s to late 1990s • Rapid proliferation of NGOs around the globe linked to changing political and economic ideologies of the time
• Significant increase in funding for NGO related projects
• NGOs were considered development alternatives and become the ‘favoured child’ of development agencies
4th Early 2000s- current • NGO activity shaped by poverty reductions agendas and Millennium Development Goals
• Funders increasingly channelling aid to and through NGOs
   • Increase in bilateral aid and global health initiatives (i.e.Global Fund, PEPFAR)