Who's giving the goods?

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japesc08
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Who's giving the goods?

As I stated in my last blog, "Less is more," I wanted to begin to talk about NGOs', especially international organizations, ability to take over the government's abilty and desire to provide public goods like education for their citizens. In my research and field experience, I understand mostly how this affects East Africa. I would argue that this is most evident in Africa due to its long colonial history, consistent dependency on the "developed world" after countless development projects.

A public good is a good or service that can be consumed without reducing the amount of availability for others and are supposed to be provided by the government. Yet most goods are not perfect public goods. Education and health care are major examples used as goods that the government are responsible for providing whether people pay taxes or not. Yet education is not seen as a perfect public good even in America or abroad. For example, in America, at this point in history, higher education is a private good considering if you do not pay, you cannot attend. Or in most East African schools, if you do not pay for your uniform or books, you cannot attend.

Structural adjustment was introduced to Uganda in the 1980s and eventually led to the Universal Primary Education (1997) where every family was able to send up to four children to school for free (this excludes the price of books and uniforms). The international intervention has had mixed reviews locally and from scholar perspectives. If education is free, why do you need so many NGOs? If you have traveled abroad or talked to international students in your area, they will often tell you that they chose private education because their government schools were not good enough. Even after Universal Primary Education, many young children are sent off to boarding school in primary school so they can get a great education. And often these schools are internationnally started, follow Western models of learning, and many of the children are funded by NGOs.

After reading a document from Pherrys Kabanda at a National NGO Forum, he supports my conclusions that currently NGOs often replace agendas and are heavily involved in public good distribution. He positively states that NGOs are involved in:

  • Policy formulation
  • Agenda setting
  • Service Delivering
  • Monitoring
  • Innovating
  • Partnerships

But who knows if NGOs are even knowledgeable enough to provide these things or if they should be able to provide these things? Then what is the government's role? Most NGOs in Uganda are foreign created, funded, and not always that willing to share data and ideas with the government and the people. This is not to say that NGOs are not able create positive change in education and health care but to say that the government should not be "off the hook" if NGOs are present. I would argue that NGOs and international organizations should support and empower the changes in a country with a fertility rates that are threw the roof (6.24), but not create such a dependency on a Western agenda for social change.

This video ties in the topics from this blog and my last blog. Dr. Makumbi agrees that international organizations are not working alongside the Ugandan government or even sharing data with them to eliminate social problems. Also, by 2006, there were over 6,000 NGOs just for HIV/AIDS yet most of them are not doing their jobs properly and not enough of them were addressing the problems associated with Tuberculosis and Malaria: the top killers in Uganda.

Food for thought: What are some ways to improve relations between NGOs and the government? How much power should the government have over NGO work?

Jordyn Anya
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Re: Who's giving the goods?

I don't think that the government should have much or really any hold over NGO's. A lot of them are started due to a lack of Governmental intervention. I know when it comes to Human Trafficking in and out of the US the main effort being put forth is the effort of NGO's. In the US less than half of the 50 states have task forces to help prevent and stop trafficking. If the government had a say in what these organizations were doing I don't think they would be half as effective. I know that trafficking is a much different issue than what you are discussing but I feel that it still applies. It would probably be in everyones benefit if there was some kind of consensus of information between the government and these organizations so that more effort could be put forth by both parties, but beyond that I don't feel that the government should be able to control their actions. 

japesc08
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Re: Who's giving the goods?

Thanks Jordyn. I do agree that the NGOs have rights to work outside of government controls. However, I do think that NGO/government collaboration would be useful. I am trying to point out that NGOs often replace government service distribution and reform, especially with education and health care services. And often NGOs are pumping so much money and time into an issue without becoming fully aware of the situation. As seen in the video, it also can make the government look bad and illegitimate to the NGO. This creates a competition between the NGO and the government (which in some cases can be good). I think we are on the same page on that!

I think that in terms of human rights, you make a really strong point! In Uganda, the government tries to send many human rights NGOs away. Many of them are not allowed in the country due to the information they put in their media outlets. In this case, I believe that NGOs should have the power to have democratic participation in the community.

Jordyn Anya
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Re: Who's giving the goods?

Yeah, I totally agree with you. Collaboration would be well not a problem solver but such a great help. I think that the competition between the two is one of the biggest problems. Governments often do not want their lack of help, I guess, to be put out and made public, but they also do not want to use the resources to actually help. It's nice to see people who want to help like NGO's, but I agree with you again here, what good are they if they are not even fully educated on the issue their fighting? There is a lot of work that needs to be done on both on the NGO level and the government level. But how would we even go about trying to fix the issues we've discussed?

caduceus
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Re: Who's giving the goods?

There is a fine line to draw between letting NGO's go about their business with out restriction, and the policy a government sets forth, ultimately the people should decide.

In less developed countries government takes a back seat a lot of times to the day to day problems of its people, not out of choice, but because it doesn't have the ability to oversee.  This is good and bad but can lead to lack of infrastructure, schooling, security/safety, and justice.

Then's the opposite end of the spectrum, governments so controlling and over powering that they don't let any foreign aid in, and rigid social structure and government funded press and schooling are "our way or death"

The former rather than latter lends a more friendly picture to NGO's, and can actually allow NGO's to help mold the future of its society and empower its people to strengthen their nation "their way"

At least thats kinda how I've grasped it.

Your series has been great so far, I enjoy your not really "watch dog" attitude but more curious attitude.  More of a to fix and create efficiency rather than find problems and shut down.

Its also an interesting to me because I'm sure at some point I'll be dealing NGO's on a deployment since I'm in the Health Care side.  Even state side we have many groups trying to promote healthier lifestyles and better education.  Africa, and East Africa in particular has come up several times as "spill over" hotzone of the middle east, and is most likely going to be the next area of bigger involvement from the US and international community.

Not 100% on topic with you but figured I share a little feedback.

___________________________

Global Force for Good

Greener Blue

japesc08
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Re: Who's giving the goods?

Thanks for your comments Ed and thanks for taking an interest in my blog! Your opinions on many of these issues are very interesting and important to the conversations brought up on The Weave.

I definitely do not think the government should have total control of NGO actions, but I think that Westerners who start NGOs should have more of a relationship with public education and health care systems so they can strengthen the efforts at work. Although that is not always possible, I think many more efforts should be made by both parties.

And I definitely agree that the US will have increasing contact with East Africa as Kenya becomes a trade hub and China increases its activity in East Africa. Not to mention, US has a lot of involvement in the Somali/Kenya disputes.

One thing I actually want to bring up is the "Until" ad at the bottom of the post. Have you ever critiqued that advertisement. I am not trying to be pessimistic or over critical but take a second look at the advertisement.

It is is classic "Us v. them." The white Westerners saving the people of color living in the impoverished world. Everyone saving is white in the video and everyone who needs help is of color. Very interesting. Not to mention they use Somalia as an example when a lot of the issues that have arisen with Somalia are a result of US foreign policy. I mean, don't get me wrong, I think the Navy does a lot of fantastic things. But there are many structural flaws in the Navy and armed forces that cause many of these issues in the first place, in example, the hostage crisis. But in natural distasters, there is a huge need for people to help people who's resources are completely destroyed. Bear with me, I am taking cultural studies and we dissect ads a lot. But it might be interesting for you to look deeper into that advertisement.

Thanks again Ed!

caduceus
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Re: Who's giving the goods?

Its a fine line we walk with China, as they exploit their own people it worries me, what they will try in Africa.

I never really looked into the ad like that!  However the Female in charge on the Bridge, the fellow in the flight suite at 11 seconds show the diverse nature of the Navy.  For better or worse the Navy is running a lot of what it does like a Corporation.  So it will market as such, hence the change to "Global Force For Good", because the Navy has gained a reputation of a more globally friendly organization than it had during the cold war and in the last 10 years the world audience has been more accepting.

I see what your picking up on though, and maybe that's why there's been a push for more simplified ads, like this one:

CVN-76 is nearly the newest Aircraft carrier to the fleet and has tremendous capability for humanitarian aid but ultimately is a tool of war.

My biggest gripe is the hostage rescue is sugar coated to say the least, and really what better example of American excess than our destroyers policing pirates....but a good example of coming to the rescue of a citizen in distress.

I think in general we're trying to change the image of it being charity and feeling pity, and make it more or less reflect what most feel is our duty.  It is true and you do more with "hearts and minds" than door to door raids.  What would it have hurt to use the Japan aid footage?

I'll be honest my favorite ad is this one, but as a forum signature I choose the other because of length:

It shows more domestic flair than world wide.

Now that you've got me all analytical about it.  That one has all the cool toys to attract the boys and shows the female and minority faces, especially the officer toward the end, who the recruiting push has been for lately.  The quick flash of what I assume are Katrina footage show what they can do when the green light is given, but God only knows why it took so long for city, state, and than federal to activate the response.  Having taken a few FEMA courses its amazing the lapses that took place.

On a lighter note, the first ad that got me interested in joining the Navy was during the "accelerate your life" campaign and I remember seeing this one during football games, guess it worked:

I like posting on here because its nice to get involved in discussions and topics I didn't think I would discuss when I woke up in the morning.  I do like the 100 Percent ad more, its more to the point and less over the top "Go Navy".

Just a little off topic :)