For the sake of simplicity, development can be considered to have three aspects or dimensions: economic, social and political. Although these dimensions are interlinked there is a tendency with International Financial Institutes(IFI) to place the emphasis on the economic dimension. As from the early 1990s the aspect of (good) governance appeared, particularly initiated by the World Bank, but soon established firmly in the global development dialogue. However, when there are no financial resources available it is hard, even in a reasonable governance environment, to create a well functioning health sector, or even to establish effective and efficient local governments.
There is little, if any, conclusive evidence on countries, in which civil society is more advanced, have developed or are developing faster than countries with an immature civil society. Apparently civil society does not really facilitate countries to develop faster and it even does not guarantee, in case of economic growth, that social and politicaldimensions will follow in a balanced manner. However it can, without guarantee and only under certain conditions, positively contribute to this balancing. Part of the answer to the question on why civil society needs to be supported is found in the fact that civil society has become a factor to reckon within many countries and represents an economic force with a significant interest.
In the last two or three decades, the global NGO sector has significantly developed. Nowadays, there are over 50 thousand international NGOs and millions of different NGOs. In the 1970s, northern countries increasingly started allocating part of their budgets to development aid, so a niche for NGOs to offer development services and access these available resources emerged. There were already a few NGOs that operated internationally, but in the 1980s the phenomenon of International NGOs significantly increased. Many of those were created to take share of international assistance resources, without a real foundation mission or history in the country where they originated. In the slipstream of INGOs, which needed local partners, many developing countries lived their own rather amazing NGO explosion.