GuideStar International's Blog

February 9, 2010

Haiti: ‘A Republic of NGOs’ – but how do all these local NGOs help?

Filed under: Accountability,Aid Effectiveness,Philanthropy — guidestarinternational @ 16:18
Tags: , , ,

By Keisha Taylor

Did you know that Haiti has the highest number of local NGOs per capita in the world? It has been coined ‘A Republic of NGOs’ because of it. Before this year’s earthquake, 3000 local NGOs in a population of 10 million people were operating in Haiti, which is one of the poorest countries in the world due to its colonial past, coups, crippling debt, and susceptibility to natural disasters. It follows that the proliferation of local NGOs is understandable. NGOs help to provide services that the government won’t or don’t have the capacity to provide. However, the article Why Haiti Should Beware Professional Do-Gooders examines how the increase of foreign donors and NGOs in Haiti, though providing much need assistance, is also capable of limiting sovereignty and government capacity, which can thwarts overall development efforts. Giving resources that aren’t needed can cripple the local economy (as was the case where donated clothes in Zambia crippled the local textile industry).  The simple concept of matching needs with resources must be applied to collaborative efforts of donors, NGOs and very importantly the Haitian government. Only through working together, in a transparent and accountable manner, will long term development goals be achieved and NGOs must ensure that regardless of good intentions, their actions help and not hinder this process.

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