Chaff Launch

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Non-Governmental Organizations and the peacekeeper

StrategyPage has some interesting comments on NGOs and how they work here.
The NGOs, as they have taken over the delivery of foreign aid during the last half century, have also become part of the problems they are trying to treat. Despite their description as “non-profits” and “relief workers,” the NGOs live from contract to contract. While “non-profit,” they are not “non-revenue.” They have to bring in contracts to take care of their payroll and expenses. This has become an issue in some of the countries where NGOs operate. The locals have been noticing how much of the aid money given to their country is going through the NGOs, and how the NGOs use a lot of it to pay NGO expenses, and generally distribute the aid as they feel best, without a lot of consulting with the locals. But a major reason so many donor nations prefer to give aid via NGOs is that it cuts down on corruption. In too many poor countries getting emergency aid, local officials are quick to divert aid to personal use. 


It was an eye widening experience for me to learn the NGO "game" - that many of them were out ot get UN and other contracts to manage certain aspects of refugee problems (like camps, mine clearance, water, etc) and that these contracts provide funding that does not all go to the "victims." My observations in Kosovo were that some agencies (including UN agencies) had the latest in SUVs and other equipment, while others drove older trucks and cars. It may be a matter of managing resources, but I always felt better if dealing with an NGO that had older, but still serviceable, equipment because I felt they were better stewards of the funds they had.

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