It’s a nightmare when articles get double-parked. Let me explain.
When Ruby Diamonde’s Letter from Bangui came in for this month’s edition, it spoke movingly of a forest haven for animals in a country sadly better known these days for human strife.
If Ruby had caught a glimpse of Eden, Sophie Pritchard’s piece on the excesses of some conservation NGOs offered up hell. The same nature reserve, with the same NGO partner (WWF), but across the border in neighbouring Cameroon, was a site of evictions and human rights abuses. What to make of it?
Not much except to accept that the reality in Central African Republic may be somewhat different from that in Cameroon.
At another point in the preparation of this magazine, a colleague asked: ‘You won’t forget all the good work NGOs do too, now, will you?’ I don’t think that was ever in doubt – it figures in some form in almost every edition of New Internationalist.
But with NGOs numbering in the millions globally and the largest ones with budgets that match transnational corporations, it is also worth inspecting the charge-sheet against them. NGOs inspire public trust; we express solidarity by giving to them. Even their most trenchant critics are quick to add, ‘I don’t mean all NGOs...’ Maybe this edition will help you decide how to find ones you can support.
A further provocation this month comes from Jeremy Seabrook’s searching essay on the roots of radicalization. It’s an analysis that’s largely missing among the friction the subject generates.
And Roxana Olivera’s piece from Peru takes us back to the forest, where heroic defenders of nature and the public interest have put their lives on the line.
Dinyar Godrej for the New Internationalist co-operative.
There are more NGOs today than ever; some are bigger than ever. Yet, discovers Dinyar Godrej, questions persist about their role.
Witness the growth spurt in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and you would be forgiven for thinking the world becomes a more caring place every day.
These legions of not-for-profit groupings that fan out across the world, intent on ‘capacity building’, ‘reducing poverty’ and ensuring that the ‘voices of the most marginalized’ are heard, surely reflect an acceptance that too many have suffered for too long, and the tide can turn with the right kind of wind behind it.