CSOs have become important channels for delivery of social services and implementation of World Bank-financed development programs in partnership with governments. This is especially true in post-conflict countries or in regions where government presence is relatively weak and whereby CSOs may become the most effective alternative for delivering social services to low-income communities.
Government decentralization programs which transfer power from the federal to the local level have also resulted in local government – civil society partnerships for service delivery. CSOs are often the most qualified service providers at the community level. Examples abound of neighborhood associations, producers associations, NGOs, and trade unions receiving funding from governments – often through Bank-funded social funds or community-driven development programs to provide services at the community level. CSOs are involved in delivering a wide range of basic education and health care services in such areas as AIDS prevention, managing village water systems, running day care centers, micro and small enterprise development, and environmental park management.
CSOs are being increasingly contracted to train project personnel (for example, community health agents) or to provide technical assistance in such areas as agricultural extension services. CSOs are also being invited to assist with monitoring and evaluating projects by participating in project supervision missions, carrying out social impact analysis, and attending project review workshops.
Civil society involvement in service provision is not intended to replace the role of government, but rather to complement and improve government action. For this reason, the World Bank is attempting to simplify its contracting and procurement procedures in order to facilitate civil society involvement in Bank operations.