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Geog597.01:NGOs

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Nongovernmental organizations (NGOS) have been instrumental in providing a wide variety of aid packages to Sub-Saharan countries. NGOs operate neither as government nor as for-profit organizations; they are a diverse group of largely voluntary organizations that work with people organizations to provide technical advice and economic, social, and humanitarian assistance. They can be professional associations, religious institutions, research institutions, private foundations, or international and indigenous funding and development agencies. The World Bank is collaborating with an increasing number of grassroots NGOs to address rural development, population, health, and infrastructural issues that are pertinent to the human dimensions of its structural adjustment programs. Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe have a large number ofNGOs. Most of the "indigenous" NGOs in Africa are community-based grassroots and service-based organizations. They usually fill a void where governments have been largely ineffective and out of touch with local needs. Some of their specific developmental objectives in Sub- Saharan Afi'ica include tackling poverty by providing financial credit and technical advice to the poor, empowering marginal groups, challenging gender discrimination, and delivering emergency relief. At times, conflicts arise when NGO investments in rural areas undennine the ability of governments to perform as effective leaders and policy makers. In response to this potential threat, some African governments have instituted coordinating bodies to supervise NGO activity. For example, the Voluntary Organizations in Community Enterprise (VOICE) in Zimbabwe and the Zambia Council for Social Development both coordinate social service activities. In Uganda, two organizations have bee active in assisting the victims of AIDS. The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) provides community-based counseling, social support, and medical services to persons with AIDS and their families, while the Uganda Women's Efforts to Save Orphans cares for over 1.4 million orphaned children in Uganda.

Nongovernmental organizations have a vital role to play in the social and economic development of Sub-Saharan Africa. More partnerships between international, national, and indigenous NGOs should be encouraged. There is a growing awareness of the importance of voluntary activity. In a conference held in Dakar, Senegal, in 1987, delegates from African countries agreed to form a pan- African umbrella organization-the Forum of African Voluntary Development Organizations (FAVDO)-to provide a forum for voluntary development organizations to exchange ideas, share their expertise and resources, support local initiatives, and establish effective channels of communication and partnerships with governments and intergovernmental organizations.

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