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The Role of Ngon in Reducing Porverty

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Coursework 2
Seminar Tutor: Amjed
Word Count: 2025 8. What role do NGOs play in reducing poverty in developing countries?
Introduction
When it comes to poverty reduction in developing countries one often thinks of charities like Oxfam, Water Aid, Christian Aid, Red Cross and many others and the work they do to help reduce poverty. Non-governmental organizations such as these mentioned above play a central part in poverty reduction in many developing countries such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, Latin America and also those of Eastern Europe. Third World countries, as some may call them, have benefited from charity organizations and their work in reducing poverty. NGOs work hand in hand with governments and private organizations, as well as citizens of these countries, to alleviate poverty by providing services such as medical, education, agricultural, water, shelter and many more. There are so many projects which NGOs run to help empower the people of the developing countries, such as making available facilities that help in the well being of these individuals living in poverty. For example, orphanages, sanitation facilities and water-pumps are some of the projects NGOs undertake. They also raise awareness and campaign for the poor people so that the world does not forget about them. The developing world has seen an increase in the number of these organizations; this essay will look at some of the specific roles which NGOs play in the developing countries to reduce poverty. NGOs are not for profit organization; they are more driven by values and ideals, which is why many communities in the developing world have come to trust them to meet their needs as they seem to care for the communities they serve more than the private organizations which are more interested in profit margins. Non Governmental Organization are a part of civil society and “in recent years, there has been an increasing appreciation of the role played by the citizen sector, or “civil society” voluntary action, including that of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)” (Todaro and Smith, 2009. Pp.70-71). Todaro and Smith continue to say that “a strong NGO sector can help a developing nation make progress in addressing problems of development such as poverty alleviation and expanding social inclusion”. Poverty in the Third World countries has been at the centre of many charity organizations’ agenda and the world in general. Although poverty is to a great extent subjective and can be relative, especially in the developed countries, the developing world has seen a huge amount of people living in absolute poverty; there have been many debates about poverty and how to measure it. Poverty means different things to different people in the third world countries. For example, when asked what poverty is a poor woman from Uganda said that “when one is poor, she has no say in public, she feels inferior. She has no food, so there is famine in her house; no clothing and no progress in her family.” On the other hand, a participant in a discussion group in Brazil said poverty was “low salaries and lack of jobs. And it’s also not having medicine, food and clothes” (Todaro and Smith, 2009. p.6). The World Bank defines absolute poverty as living on US$1 per day (Allen and Thomas, 2002. p. 13). United Nations member states came together in 2002 to agree on an action plan to help alleviate poverty and help poor countries achieve sustainable development. One of the goals was to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. These goals are called the ‘Millennium Development Goals’ (MDG) (Sachs, 2005. Pp.200-202). These objectives have become a bench mark for development agencies, including the NGOs, to measure themselves against in order to see how they are doing in the battle against poverty. There are so many roles NGOs play in the developing world. One of the roles that NGOs play to alleviate poverty in third world countries is by providing small loans (micro-finance) to impoverished women to start up their own businesses; this helps the women to be financially independent and they are able to operate by themselves. Micro-finance programs have helped a lot of women especially in Bangladesh. For example, a lady called Shahanara, who lives in the slums of Dhaka, belonged to a women’s group (Lucky Mohila Samity) which was organized by Proshika Manobik Unnayon Kendra. This non-governmental organization is also known as Proshika and it was set up to help promote living standards in Dhaka. Shahanara got a loan of Tk.30 000 from Proshika to help with the start up of a business selling pans, pots and “other metal goods”. Although this business was closed up several months later, she was able to venture into another business and was hoping to get another micro finance loan from Proshika so that she can start a different kind of business such as opening up a shop or buying a rickshaw(Allen and Thomas, 2000. Pp. 109-110). For women like Shahanara these loans are like a life line and NGOs such as Proshika are there to give them loans when they need them which ordinary banks wouldn’t, as often women or people in general have to go through a vigorous financial scrutiny before being given any kind of loans and are often turned down due to low credit scoring among other things. Islamic Relief, an international NGO established in 1984 (its 25th year anniversary), stated in Islamic Relief Worldwide, its annual report and summary financial statement (2009), that their aim was “to alleviate poverty by increasing the economic, social and physical capacity of communities to sustain their livelihoods”. One way this goal was achieved was to set up a youth skills training project in the war torn Afghanistan province of Balkh. This project was set up to help some of the young people living in this province like Barisa Mohammed, who was 19 years old at the time, to acquire skills in, for example, beauty therapy and open up a beauty parlour and enabling her to become independent. Islamic Relief worked hand in hand with the Afghan Labour Ministry and also the Ministry of Social Affairs, as well as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, in the three months they were there. This project not only helped young women like Barisa get skills, it also helped to address health, hygiene and environmental issues in the area to promote the people’s well being. Oxfam, one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the world, has helped a lot of communities in the developing world to gain access to clean water, sanitation and food amongst other things. Davidson et al (1992) talks about how Oxfam has helped the poor people of Sudan with emergency food aid as the country suffered from famine in the eighties and nineties. Oxfam got involved in providing food aid in Darfur and the Red hills, where Beja people lives. Davidson also said that in this area Oxfam found out that not only was it affected by famine but the people were so poor that they were not able to buy any food as their herds had been lost and did not have any other way of earning a living so Oxfam followed the emergency food aid with a development program to help the communities find ways to have sustainable livelihood. This was done through agricultural practises such as ecological systems (agro forestry, manuring) to combat the environmental problems and biological pest control and irrigation to help them have food security in the long run (Davidson et al., 1992. Pp 76-80). In many developing countries unemployment is high and social welfare is often not available, so NGOs often work hard to find poor people alternative means of income and often teach them ways how they can sustain these means. Most developing countries rely on agriculture in rural areas as many people still live in these areas so improved ways of farming often make a difference as they empower people. One of the Millennium Development Goals is “to have by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation (Sachs, 2005.p.212). Water Aid, a British based international NGO, has in many ways fulfilled this goal in many countries such as Ethiopia, Malawi, Zambia and many more. In the White Man’s Burden, William Easterly talks of how he visited a remote village in the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia and found out what Water Aid is doing there, bringing water to the people who had to walk miles to get water that was polluted to drink and which was making their children sick. Furthermore, Easterly said the local people of this village had embraced the project and was being run by the communities and life was better for them (Easterly, 2007.p. 210).
BRAC, an NGO established in Bangladesh in 1972, to empower the poor and alleviate poverty have evolved and tacked many situations of poverty. In 2008 BRAC started a program called Empowerment and livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) to help the young girls in Tanzania; this particular project is said to be funded by the Nike Foundation. The program is divided into 100 clubs of girls aged between13 to 20 years old. The clubs act as a safe haven for the girls to participate in activities and talk about life issues, as well as getting skills so that they can start their own businesses, especially the older ones. The skills includes; vegetable cultivation, poultry rearing, food processing, other non-farm businesses. This BRAC project is designed and tailored to empower and give young women confidence and self esteem (BRAC, 2011).

Although NGOs do a lot when it comes to reducing poverty, many communities are suspicious of them especially those that are from northern developed countries as they are seen as if they want to tell the people of the developing world what to do. For example, one NGO bought goats for the poor people when they had no skill in raising goats and did not want it. This kind of gesture can often be perceived wrongly and they can get resistance from the very people they want to help. Sometimes, it is the way they conduct their projects that poor communities are wary about. NGOs can, for instance, see a need and want to instruct the locals as to what they need to do instead of actively involving them and finding out what the community themselves need, because often when the beneficiaries participate they identify with the projects as they see them as their own. When projects fail it can look bad on the NGO, this may result in communities losing faith in them.

Conclusion In summary, NGOs are not just for emergencies as some may think; most of them are there to bridge the gap between the local communities and their local governments and they fill in places where governments have failed to address the issues. NGOs have the experience on the ground and they have the expertise to deal with the issues on poverty. They are a voice for otherwise marginalized people, they go where a few dare to go and most importantly they are driven by passion and compassion for humans and their well being. They are accountable first and foremost to the beneficiaries. When there is a crisis a lot of charities appeal for donations and many may associate humanitarian appeals with NGOs. Although it is true to say that the first people to answer to a crisis, whether it be a flood, an earthquake, or a drought are the NGOs, their work does not start or stop there. Charitable organizations work with people on grassroots and all levels. The way these organizations work with their beneficiaries helps the service users gain their trust, as many NGO involve the service users and let them participate in each process of the project aiming to help them in the process of alleviating poverty in developing countries. Although NGOs are not perfect, the world is a definitely better with the work they do. With the corruption in the developing countries’ governments, they have come to play an increasingly important role in fighting poverty, empowering the communities to take their own initiative. Therefore they are a vital part of today’s society and without these organizations many poor people will be desperate today.

References
Todaro M and Smith S, (2009). Economic Development. 10th ed. London: Addison-Wesley. 6, 70-71.
Allen, T and Thomas, A (2000). Poverty And Development Into The 21st Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 109-110
Gunendu K. Roy, (2011). Where We Work : Tanzania : Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents. Available :( http://www.brac.net/content/where-we-work-tanzania-empowerment-and-livelihood-adolescents ). Last accessed 9th may, 2011.
Davison, J and Myers, D with Chakraborty M (1992). No Time To Waste, Poverty and the Global Environment. Oxford: Oxfam. 75-80.
Sachs, J (2005). The End of Poverty. London: Penguin Group. 200-202.
Easterly, W (2007). The White Man 's Burden. Oxford: Oxford University
Saeed, s (2009). Islamic Relief Worldwide Annual Report and Summary Financial Statement. Birmingham: Islamic Relief. 25.

References: Todaro M and Smith S, (2009). Economic Development. 10th ed. London: Addison-Wesley. 6, 70-71. Allen, T and Thomas, A (2000). Poverty And Development Into The 21st Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 109-110 Gunendu K. Roy, (2011). Where We Work : Tanzania : Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents. Available :( http://www.brac.net/content/where-we-work-tanzania-empowerment-and-livelihood-adolescents ). Last accessed 9th may, 2011. Davison, J and Myers, D with Chakraborty M (1992). No Time To Waste, Poverty and the Global Environment. Oxford: Oxfam. 75-80. Sachs, J (2005). The End of Poverty. London: Penguin Group. 200-202. Easterly, W (2007). The White Man 's Burden. Oxford: Oxford University Saeed, s (2009). Islamic Relief Worldwide Annual Report and Summary Financial Statement. Birmingham: Islamic Relief. 25.

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