Sunday, November 06, 2005

NGOs are a better bet... or are they?

Prime Minister Paul Martin and former US president Bill Clinton have been musing that involvement in Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) may be a better option than federal politics as a vehicle to transforming the developing world in this article from CP.

The prime minister and the former U.S. president have both decried lately the
messy business of democracy as a vehicle for delivering aid in favour of
private, non-profit organizations.
Indeed, whenever disaster strikes western
governments are apt to choose organizations such as the Red Cross and Oxfam to
disperse relief funds.
While NGOs appreciate the sentiment, the action is a different story.

While those working on the non-governmental side of international aid appreciate
the sentiment behind Martin's and Clinton's words, they're skeptical proper
long-term funding for such projects is forthcoming from Western nations.
And... ready? Guess which of the two sexes has a tendency to want to get down in the dirt and do something useful.

"You look at the non-governmental organizations, these are the people who are
out there working in the environment, working on poverty. They're largely run by women," Martin continued.
"I think that fundamentally most women say 'I can
do this through an NGO and why would I put up with (the) hassle (of politics).'
I think that's the big reason."

Score one for NGOs and zero for parliamentary democracy.

It's worth reading the entire article. Interestingly, David Zakus, former head of Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief doesn't necessarily agree with Martin and Clinton, if for no other reason than that funding an NGO can be incredibly difficult.

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