Practising what they preach? Development NGOs and the EU’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa

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This article examines how non-governmental development organisations (NGDOs) balance their moral and organisational/financial incentives in the case of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF). The EUTF was created in 2015 to support the European Union’s (EU’s) migration policy by addressing the ‘root causes’ of migration in Africa. The article analyses how NGDOs have reacted to the EUTF using qualitative textual analysis of publications and press releases, and finds that NGDOs have been highly critical of the EUTF’s underlying narrative, goals and implementation. Their positions align closely with the stated moral vision of supporting and empowering the global poor. Despite this critical position, many NGDOs have benefitted financially from the EUTF as project implementers. Regression analysis on the determinants of NGDO participation in EUTF projects reveals that NGDOs have largely avoided the more controversial migration management projects of the EUTF, and have focused mostly on projects that build resilience in local communities and support improving the lives and the rights of the poor in Africa. The case of the EUTF shows that NGDOs mostly practise what they preach, and while they did not abstain from the EUTF, they did not allow their financial incentives to fully dictate their actions either.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2552-2571
Number of pages20
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number11
Early online date2 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Africa
  • EU development policy
  • civil society
  • migration
  • trust fund


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