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It is already widely acknowledged fact that the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of the government must check and balance each other. However, in certain cases, these branches of government is simply not enough to have a deeper look into what ordinary citizens are in need of. Non-state institutions must also participate in this vital system of checks and balances as well. Of these institutions, it includes media, academy, religious institutions but most importantly, the 1945 UN Charter Article 71’s result, non-governmental organizations, or NGOs. NGOs are the ones who are working to contribute to the realization of human rights, to the full elimination and decrease of poverty, to protect the green environment and lastly, to achieve sustainable patterns of development. These issues, however, are complex and multilayered and since the beginning, NGOs across the world started to cooperate and communicate with each other to strengthen and improve their impact. But how did the NGOs get this far? They have surely changed and revised their development strategy since their emergence but what was the root cause of the change? This study will show that although there were numerous and countless criticisms of NGO’s efficiency since the beginning, NGOs have actually successfully developed and progressed throughout the history by adapting to revised development strategy. This was a necessary and crucial step for the NGOs to take because of its state, institutions, and public policy was not able to address the host, source of the problem.
With the collapse of financial resources and intensifying poverty, both national governments and donors did not have any other choice but to look directly at NGOs as a method to receive benefits directly and more importantly, cheaply to the poor. That being said, NGOs started to become more aware of their potential to successfully attract the national and international funding. NGOs were seen as a platform for those who wanted to not just receive beneficiaries and support but also to give aid. With this in mind, NGOs at first seemed to successfully show their function of “people-centered development issues” (Korten 147). However, with the new challenges rising on the horizon, there were new demands that required NGO’s conceive of and adapting their activities to match the current system. Responding to these various challenges placed many new NGOs in “unaccustomed” roles that demanded new kinds of competence (Korten). This study will later present a distinction between three generations of voluntary development actions and how their development action changed over time.
There are more than 10 million NGOs that are currently functioning today and they are all rich in the diversity of their purpose and experiences (Global Journal). Nevertheless, it is still possible to define and categorize three basic distinctive orientations in its own unique programming strategy: relief and welfare; local self-reliance; and sustainable systems development. Starting with the ‘relief and welfare’ aspect of the early NGOs, there were countless international NGOs that began as aid-giving, charitable relief organizations. Organizations like Save the Children, World Vision, and CARE all fall under the category of ‘delivering welfare service’ bracket (Edwards and Hulmes 1996). These models were shown even in some local, national NGOs such as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee or BRAC. BRAC’s focus and the objective were mainly on meeting the immediate demands through quick and direct actions. Direct actions would include distribution of food, provision of shelter and also fielding a team for health benefits. It is important to note that NGOs who mainly served for direct needs and services are all funded by private contributions. Furthermore, the target for these NGOs were mainly family and individuals who are in need of a help. In fact, all of the beneficiaries that families and people in desperate needs were all dependent solely on the presence of NGO in that specific region or town. One of the interesting phenomena that occurred due to the first-generation organization was that now there was a platform in which people could express their desire to share with those less fortunate (Korten 148). Organizations like BRAC and Save the Children gave birth to a first generation of “private voluntary development assistance” where these organizations would bring their own unique expertise into fields. Again, these organizations were all funded by private donors and it is solely dependent on the field workers how much the work is done. In other words, work evaluation was missing and there was not an indicator whether the job was getting done or not. While these types of assistance that were offered by NGOs were suitable for the current, emerging emergency situation, it actually did not contribute anything to the actual self-ability of the poor. To meet the sustainable basis, first generation NGO’s work was deficient.
For the most part, relief efforts certainly did remain as an appropriate and essential response to emergency situations which of course required for there to be immediate and direct humanitarian aid. In some cases, there, of course, might be an area where such welfare assistance might be more than enough. However, there were few areas in which the first-generation NGOs did not seem able to ameliorate due to other factors. First, NGOs during this era were extremely donor-fund based. Michael Bratton, who studies NGO relations in Africa, worded it this way. “Their existence, not just merely dependence, is on donor money”. He later goes on and adds that the NGO booming was only possible because of “spending spree” launched by donors. This was clearly shown in the example of BRAC when they were only able to expand due to major inputs from European and Canadian aid-giving agencies (Korton). In addition, there were cases in which the NGO staff were expected to demonstrate some success in regards to their work. However, to renew and sustain their support from their donors, NGO staffs are prone to “fudge” the data to suit their client’s needs (Zaidi 1995). Correspondingly, there were definitely harsh criticisms of the NGO’s work integrity and their over-dependent on donor funding. However, the first-generation NGOs did not cease to go forward with the objective that was in front of them and continued their act of revision with an advanced development strategy that will be shown in the second generation.
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