NGOs: A Blessing or a Curse?

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are private, non-profit distributing, self-governing organizations that provide a variety of services and humanitarian functions, helping to bring citizen concerns to governments.  They provide essential resources for locals in impoverished areas, and contribute to increasing the GDP of less developed countries.

A great positive of these organizations is that their microfinance highlight the needs of minority groups. They also help to monitor and advocate government policies that will benefit the locals.  In the Philippines, numerous groups significantly help local business to develop and thrive. This is evident most notably in Kiva, a group that provides loans to the local community without traditional banking systems. Ultimately, such aid gives low-income individuals an opportunity to support themselves by providing a means of saving money, borrowing money, and insurance, a utility which would have been unavailable and inaccessible to them otherwise.

Despite the benefits of the microfinance provided by organizations like Kiva to the local community, it can also be argued that such support merely provides a ‘crutch’ for these people.  Since the problem is not solved from its roots, once the ‘crutch’ is removed, arguably the people will ask for more. Although Kiva gives small businesses a great helping hand,  it is plausible that this service can actually hurt the people and hinder the self-sufficiency and economic development of the country, because donations given on a silver plate are not the answer to alleviating poverty.

So how can the poverty cycle truly be broken?  Perhaps a plausible solution is for NGOs to focus on aiding in self-sufficiency. Instead of simply providing locals with the resources they need, organizations should be educating and teaching the poor, helping them learn how to set up the fundamental system, law, and procedure to obtain the resources themselves, without the need of outside help.  This sort of development is not something that can be achieved in a day, but is one that requires the implementation of a long-term strategy.  In theory, the impoverished should be encouraged to become less dependent on aid, so that they are ideally able to achieve a state of autonomy.

 Article by: Deedee Aeschliman

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