NGOs - Do they help?

A note from the editor

Dinyar Godrej

‘You won’t forget all the good work, will you?’

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.
www.newint.org

Keynote article.

Not today: a girl walks past a school in Kibera, a nairobi slum without running water or electricity, where 800 aid organizations operate.

Not today: a girl walks past a school in Kibera, a nairobi slum without running water or electricity, where 800 aid organizations operate.

Noor Khamis / Reuters

NGOs - do they help?

There are more NGOs today than ever; some are bigger than ever. Yet, discovers Dinyar Godrej, questions persist about their role.

Buy this magazine

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.

History, howev...




Features.

The company they keep

Big NGOs and big corporations – Ian Brown finds they are getting a bit too close.

Buy this magazine

Aiding and abetting

Cartoonist Polyp’s satirical take on field work.

Buy this magazine

Street artist bustart visualizes some of WWF's corporate connections (as revealed by the Pandaleaks website) on a shutter in Amsterdam. The title is a reference to the WWF's Living Planet report.

Evicted by charity

The green imperialism of some conservation charities, by Sophie Pritchard.

Buy this magazine

An anti-nuclear demonstration under way in Mumbai. The government considers such movements ‘anti- development’.

Contested territory

Accused by the government of stalling development and by critics on the Left of not being radical enough, NGOs in India are facing many challenges. Dionne Bunsha reports.

Buy this magazine

What is the right response to the Ebola crisis?

What is the right response to the Ebola crisis?

MSF respond to charges against the way they operate in Sierra Leone.

Buy this magazine

The distress dealers: an Action Against Hunger advert.The distress dealers: (left) Save the Children, (centre) ActionAid, (right) Action Against hunger.

The unwelcome return of development pornography

John Hilary on a degrading spectacle that keeps coming back.

Buy this magazine

‘Is this your fingerprint? Do you recognize it?’

Strange goings-on in the trial of indigenous protesters accused of killing police in Bagua. Roxana Olivera reports from the Peruvian Amazon.

Buy this magazine

Agenda.

TV's transgender trendsetter

Padmini Prakash makes history in India.

Buy this magazine

Organized acts of kindness

Organized acts of kindness

US debts wiped clean through crowdfunding.

Buy this magazine

Russia's unseen casualties

Russia's unseen casualties

Those living with HIV in the Ukraine face an uncertain future following cuts to support services, reports Gabriella Jozwiak.

Buy this magazine

35 years ago...

35 years ago...

Chris Brazier looks back at an issue of New Internationalist from 1979 on foreign aid.

Buy this magazine

Tarpaulin revolution

Tarpaulin revolution

In London's Parliament Square, protesters provide a visible alternative to the politics of vested interest. Hannah Martin reports.

Buy this magazine

Re-introducing... Evo Morales

Richard Swift welcomes the Bolivian president's third term in office.

Buy this magazine

Art and soul

Syrian artists in exile feel free to express themselves and their politics, discovers Lydia James.

Buy this magazine

Women protected

Women protected

A new law in Egypt is a positive step for women, but not the end of the struggle, says Chalaine Chang.

Buy this magazine

Mine shafted

Mine shafted

Jess Worth on indigenous Canadians' fight against a mine.

Buy this magazine

Elusive justice after Bhopal

Elusive justice after Bhopal

Thirty years after the disaster, the campaign for justice continues.

Buy this magazine

Reasons to be cheerful

Reasons to be cheerful

Good news from around the world this month.

Buy this magazine

Regulars.

Letters

Praise, blame and all points in between? Your feedback published in the December 2014 magazine.

Read this article

Letter from Bangui: Tears in the forest

Ruby Diamonde escapes the city and delights in the beauty of the rainforest.

Buy this magazine

Country profile: Chad

Facts, figures and photos from Chad.

Buy this magazine

Open Window: Unprotected

Brandan Reynolds from South Africa with ‘Unprotected’.

Buy this magazine

Jeremy Seabrook.

Myths of radicalization

Jeremy Seabrook considers the myths of radicalization.

Buy this magazine

Southern Exposure: Cameroon

Pondering the future in Cameroon, by photographer Jean-Pierre Kepseu.

Buy this magazine

Making Waves: Catherine Hamlin

Sofi Lundin meets Catherine Hamlin, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and doctor extraordinaire.

Buy this magazine

And finally... Elif Shafak

Best-selling author Elif Shafak on Twitter, Turkey and making peace with her fears.

Buy this magazine

Film, Book & Music Reviews.

Great gentleness - and stunning quartets.

Mixed media: Music

Silk & Stone by Amira Medunjanin; Lament by Einstürzende Neubauten.

Buy this magazine

Syria - when protest seemed plausible.

Mixed media: Film

Citizenfour directed by Laura Poitras; We Are The Giant directed by Greg Barker; Winter Sleep directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Buy this magazine

Mixed media: Books

The Drum Tower by Farnoosh Moshiri; The Final Charge by Dawood Ali McCallum; The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck; They Can’t Represent Us! by Marina Sitrin and Dario Azzellini.

Buy this magazine

Back