Blog #6: NGO Issues

  1. The main concerns Linda Polman raises in her book is that it seems no matter whether you are an INGO or a MONGO, no one is handling aid correctly. For INGOs, there is a huge visible waste of money. Whether it goes towards placating the ruling governing body through bribes or other forms of “negotiation” so that the INGO can operate, or goes towards financing the lavish lifestyles of many humanitarian aid workers, a lot of money raised by various INGOs does not directly benefit the cause it is raised for. Polman cites many instances where the aid workers are living a high life outside of when they are doing aid, going out to clubs and dining on good food often. Indeed, these aid workers are not living in poor conditions; the country clubs et al. are fixed before schools in many disaster zones. Polman also states that on the other hand MONGOs are going into areas believing they can do good but they are only there for a small period of time, being uninformed about the events which had to occur for the disaster to have happened, but also not being there for the aftereffects of their actions. She cites that an MONGO out of Kansas left many patients without aftercare, and other NGOs had to take care of them after the MONGO left, at their own expense.
  2. Polman says that “aid organizations are businesses dressed up like Mother Teresa” because the only thing we ever learn about aid organizations is that they help people. We never see the business side of things, where agreements have to be made, tariffs paid, etc. in order for the organizations to be able to operate in the first place. We also are never exposed to the bonuses the head aid workers experience, taking form very similar to those of top executives in Fortune 500 companies. We never hear about the lavish lifestyles these workers are allowed to live. In fact, we just assume that anyone involved in aid is living at the lowest possible level they can so that they can do the most good, but in reality this is not always the case. They still take care of their people, in the same way that businesses do to their own.
  3. Journalists have to not be afraid to ask questions to organizations and stop being afraid of any backlash. The public expects them to hold politicians accountable for their actions and to ask the tough questions, but this same status quo does not exist in the realm of NGOs. The public has to in turn also empower journalists to feel the need to ask such questions, while also holding the NGOs they donate to or work with accountable as well. Governments need to establish better transparency when reporting the actions of NGOs they work with, as well as cooperating with the countries they are providing aid to to attempt to reduce barriers. Additionally, they need to ensure organizations are not allowing unqualified people to carry out actions in foreign countries – they need to establish a system which either fines, or worse, people who are taking advantage of those in need.
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