2014 CSO Sustainability Index for Asia

Whether fighting for labor rights in Bangladesh, responding to natural disasters in the Philippines, advocating for election laws in Indonesia, or providing crucial health services in Thailand, CSOs in the seven countries covered by this inaugural edition of the CSO Sustainability Index for Asia all play critical roles in their communities and countries.

The 2014 CSO Sustainability Index for Asia evaluates the strength and viability of the CSO sectors in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Although all seven countries have overall sustainability ratings falling within the Sustainability Evolving category, the Index tells the story of a diverse region. On one end of the spectrum are the Philippines and Bangladesh, where CSOs enjoy the highest levels of sustainability among the countries covered in this edition of the Index. CSOs in both countries are strong advocates and provide a diverse range of goods and services. In addition, CSOs in the Philippines benefit from highly supportive legal and political frameworks and support from a number of CSO networks and associations, while leading CSOs in Bangladesh have pioneered sustainable funding models. CSOs in Thailand and Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have the lowest levels of sustainability. CSOs in these two countries operate under difficult legal and political environments and suffer from the perception that they serve their donors rather than beneficiaries.

The size of the sectors assessed in these countries also varies dramatically. In Sri Lanka, there are just 1,439 NGOs registered. While the Ministry of Interior in Cambodia reports 4,378 registered organizations, a study by the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia in 2013 found that only 1,315 registered NGOs and associations in the country were active. In addition, however, Cambodia is home to an estimated 25,000 unregistered and community-based organizations. On the other end of the spectrum, recent data indicates a total of more than 300,000 registered CSOs in the Philippines and nearly 140,000 registered CSOs in Indonesia. In Bangladesh, there are about 250,000 CSOs registered with various government authorities, fewer than 50,000 of which are active.