NGOs in Africa-flashy cars aside–do they perform?

Posted: October 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

I find this argument by Jackson Muneza M’vunganyi of the Voice of America (VOA) very interesting and precisely reflective of NGOs in most parts of the continent. In countries where there is bad governance and poor economic performance, NGOs sprout all over the place, some purpoting to be advocating for good governance, others as think tanks trying to parallely fix everything that has gone wrong in the country. What’s your assessment of NGOs in your area, does M’vunganyi’s argument reflect some NGOs on the African continent?

Posted by Muneza, J M’vunganyi

Regardless of their persuasion or modus operandi, all NGO’s are top heavy with entrenched, well-remunerated, extravagantly-perked bureaucracies.–Sam Vaknin

There are hundreds of Non-governmental organizations working on the African continent. In many cases their presence is felt less in the work they do or the impact they have on a particular community,and more in the amount of fancy SUVs driving down the dirt roads. On the show today we talked about the role and impact of NGO’s in Africa. We also loved the piece by Sam Vaknin who sums it thus “Their arrival portends rising local prices and a culture shock. Many of them live in plush apartments, or five star hotels, drive SUV’s, sport $3000 laptops and PDA’s. They earn a two figure multiple of the local average wage. They are busybodies, preachers, critics, do-gooders, and professional altruists. Always self-appointed, they answer to no constituency. Though unelected and ignorant of local realities, they confront the democratically chosen and those who voted them into office. A few of them are enmeshed in crime and corruption. They are the non-governmental organizations, or NGO’s. Some NGO’s – like Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Amnesty – genuinely contribute to enhancing welfare, to the mitigation of hunger, the furtherance of human and civil rights, or the curbing of disease. Others – usually in the guise of think tanks and lobby groups – are sometimes ideologically biased, or religiously-committed and, often, at the service of special interests. Regardless of their persuasion or modus operandi, all NGO’s are top heavy with entrenched, well-remunerated, extravagantly-perked bureaucracies. Opacity is typical of NGO’s. Amnesty’s rules prevent its officials from publicly discussing the inner workings of the organization – proposals, debates, opinions – until they have become officially voted into its Mandate.


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