NGOs: do they really help?

NI 478-01-coverThe main section of this month’s New Internationalist opens up the existential issue of whether NGOs (and in particular international development NGOs) are now doing more harm than good around the world. The theme is an increasingly common one in blogs, magazines and academic journals from all sides – which surely makes it all the more important that it is taken seriously.

The keynote article presents a measured balance sheet of the contributions made and the damage done by INGOs, while my piece on the return of the worst forms of fundraising imagery will be familiar to those already following the debate on these pages over the past year. For those who have subscriptions to the hard copy magazine, there are critical pieces on the corporate collaborations of INGOs such as Oxfam and Save the Children, a look at WWF and ‘green imperialism’, an overview of NGOs in India, plus a response from MSF to earlier criticism of their work fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone.

There is also a handy 10-point checklist of things to consider when you are thinking of supporting an NGO, including number 9: “Can its vision and practice be seen as promoting justice and opposed to the neoliberal worldview?”

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Meeting – UK development sector and illicit drugs policy

Christian Aid and Health Poverty Action are hosting a meeting of development and other NGOs to discuss creating a joint position for the UK development sector on the issue of illicit drugs policy.  The meeting will take place at 10 am on Monday, 8 December at Health Poverty Action’s offices on the ground floor at 31-33 Bondway, London SW8 1SJ.  The office is a short walk from Vauxhall Tube and rail stations.  A map is available here:  http://www.healthpovertyaction.org/contact-us/

Health Poverty Action has recently begun working with development NGOs to engage in the growing global debate around the current ‘War on Drugs’ and its negative impacts on development, especially for poor farmers and producers.  HPA is looking especially at the effects of international and national drug policy on conflict, as well as on poverty, inequality, governance, health, and land rights.  The UN will be re-evaluating its drug policies at a Special Session of the General Assembly (UNGASS) in 2016, providing a key opportunity for the development sector to help ensure that future policies do not exacerbate conflict and poverty.  This meeting will look at developing a position statement for the sector prior to the preliminary UNGASS discussions happening in March.

If you’re interested in coming along (whether to participate or just to learn more), please contact Catherine Martin at c.martin@healthpovertyaction.org or 020 7840 3745.

 

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We got this, Bob Geldof, so back off

For those who haven’t seen the responses coming out of Africa to the fourth appearance of the Band Aid single earlier this week, Al Jazeera collected a number of critiques of the ‘white saviour complex’ in this article. Ghanaian musician Fuse ODG wrote a comment piece for This Is Africa explaining why he turned down Geldof’s invitation to take part in the single. Another contributor put up an open letter to Sir Bob and the other artists involved, voicing ‘a few problems’ with the single – starting with the simple question: “Do Africans know it’s Christmas? Could you be more condescending?”

The same website also reminded readers that a collective of African musicians had already come together to record a (rather better) song to raise awareness of Ebola, and to send some money in the direction of MSF at the same time. Here it is:

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StopAIDS AGM

Posting on behalf of Ben Simms…

We will be exploring what lessons from the global response to HIV can be applied to the 2014 outbreak of ebola in West Africa. As the number of deaths approaches 5,000, we will explore the epidemiological, cultural, and political dimensions of ebola and HIV. Speakers include Dr Edwin Mapara, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Dr Mit Philips, Médecins Sans Frontières. The discussion will be chaired byBaroness Barker. Further speakers to be confirmed.

http://stopaids.org.uk/events/agm/

 

 

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15th November, Health in Action conference

Health in Action
Medact and Health Poverty Action
15 November 2014
9.30-5.30
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Guest speakers include:
Mary O’Hara, author of Austerity Bites
Anuj Kapilashrami, People’s Health Movement
Danny Kushlik, Director of Transform Drug Policy Foundation

Social, economic and political determinants of health all up for discussion and debate and the day includes the launch of Global Health Watch 4

http://www.medact.org for more information and to book a ticket

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Does the language of ‘development’ matter?

This blog in the Guardian will be familiar ground for Progressive Development Forum members. But please feel free to comment on the Guardian website to get the debate going.

 

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Strong challenge to NGO working practices

A great recent article by Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, head of Civicus. Well worth sharing.

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/aug/11/civicus-open-letter-civil-society-professionalisation?CMP=twt_gu

We’ve adopted the strategic planning and management tools of the power structures we should be challenging.

We’re settling for incremental change – quantifiable outocmes that appleal to donors.

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