Through voluntary organizations in different guises existed well before the 20th century, NGOs as they are recognized today have a more recent history. For example, Guthi system was already established firmly in Nepal. Slowly but surely, Nepal saw the arrival of social as well as Welfare and Charity Organizations. In such a scenario, South Asia Partnership – Nepal was established as an INGO in 1985 in affiliation with the then Social Service National Coordination Council (SSNCC).Those were days when everything was different. SSNCC, as the only governing body had a tight hold over the NGOs thereby restricting their development work. In the initial few years of its establishment SAP-Nepal provided funding support to grass-roots NGOs to implement welfare nature of projects. To address the changing need of the NGO sector SAP-Nepal initiated the Human Resource Development Program (HRDP) in 1989 to give needed training to development workers. Later it was realized that problems confronted by the rural populace of Nepal are multi-dimensional in nature that needs integrated approach to solve it. Community Action Program (CAP), a multi-sectoral and community based integrated development project of SAP Nepal was based on this thinking which was initiated in 1990
Then came 1991 and democracy. The year was not only a milestone in the political arena, but also in the field of development. SSNCC became SWC (Social Welfare Council) with liberal policies and a broader vision. NGOs got a change to be their own bosses. From 300 registered NGOs in 1990, the number of NGOs registered with SWC has jumped to 2100 in 1994. This alone can give a picture of how things have changed. In such a situation, SAP- Nepal got a chance to really flourish and work harder towards its goal of building a better society before the situation got totally out of control in terms of high dependency of external funding agencies on NGOs and lack of capacity of Nepali NGOs to take up growing responsibilities. SAP Nepal ventured into another area by starting the Long Term Partnership Program (LTPP).
SAP- Nepal diversified its programs through LTPP with a life span of five years to build up people’s institutions at the local level. The main aim of LTPP was to support and strengthen the institutional capacity of local voluntary organizations by promoting institutionalization and self- reliance through participatory process of development which responds to the expressed needs of disadvantaged community.
In 1994 there was one more dimension in the SAP- Nepal evolution process. SAP-Nepal initiated NGO Resource Center or PATH project (Participatory Action Towards Holistic Development) in collaboration with SNV Nepal. It was turning point for SAP-Nepal to change its paradigm from need-based to right based approach. From 1994 onward SAP-Nepal has been actively involved in peace building, good governance and social accountability promotion intervention at different levels.