This post is a bit of a sketch. I will extend it to a full post based on reader responses. It is centred around questions that I am asking you, the reader. Please feel free to respond to these questions in the comments. I will use your answers to write the full version of the post.
Looking for inspiration for today’s post, I typed ’27 February’ into Wikipedia. I knew that it was likely that this date, as most dates, would have some observance or significance attached to it.
So, it is World NGO Day. Celebrating the work of NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organisations) the world over.
How does this fit into the Interweav vision? NGO’s are a significant part of global culture, so I must address them somehow.
Definition. ‘Non-governmental organisations’ is generally taken to mean organisations that, according to Wikipedia: ‘are usually nonprofit and sometimes international organizations independent of governments and international governmental organizations (though often funded by governments) that are active in humanitarian, educational, healthcare, public policy, social, human rights, environmental, and other areas to effect changes according to their objectives. They are thus a subgroup of all organizations founded by citizens.’
According to the Wikipedia page on NGO’s, the current number of NGO’s globally is estimated to be around 10 million. In India, for instance, there is approximately one NGO for every 600 citizens.
The term ‘NGO’ was first coined when the United Nations was created (the UN is itself an intergovernmental organisation, but not an NGO) in 1945.
Clearly, many NGO’s do a lot of good work, at least ‘for the time being’, and even considering the context, descibed on the Interweav blog elsewhere, of the coming energy Descent and relocalisation of culture globally.
But consider this snippet of critique of NGO’s, also from the Wikipedia page on NGO’s:
‘Issa G. Shivji is one of Africa’s leading experts on law and development issues as an author and academic. His critique on NGOs is found in two essays: “Silences in NGO discourse: The role and future of NGOs in Africa” and “Reflections on NGOs in Tanzania: What we are, what we are not and what we ought to be”. Shivji argues that despite the good intentions of NGO leaders and activists, he is critical of the “objective effects of actions, regardless of their intentions”. Shivji argues also that the sudden rise of NGOs are part of a neoliberal paradigm rather than pure altruistic motivations. He is critical of the current manifestations of NGOs wanting to change the world without understanding it, and that the imperial relationship continues today with the rise of NGOs.
James Pfeiffer, in his case study of NGO involvement in Mozambique, speaks to the negative effects that NGO’s have had on areas of health within the country. He argues that over the last decade, NGO’s in Mozambique have “fragmented the local health system, undermined local control of health programs, and contributed to growing local social inequality”.
He notes further that NGO’s can be uncoordinated, creating parallel projects among different organizations, that pull health service workers away from their routine duties in order to serve the interests of the NGO’s.’
Questions for you, the reader:
1) Does the critique of NGO’s quoted above resonate with your personal experiences of NGO’s in your country?
2) What positive experiences of NGO’s do you have?
3) What thoughts do you have on the relation between NGO’s and the relocalisation of culture, or, to make it simpler, what thoughts do you have on the relation between NGO’s and ecologically sustainable human culture?