Wednesday, January 14, 2009

NGOs and Sustainability

Non- government organizations or NGOs are considered the "fourth force" (media is the "third force") that check the State on its responsibilities to the different stakeholders.

The peak of the of civil society participation started after People Power Revolution I.With democracy just reinstalled, NGOs were created , advocating different issues.Community organizing and empowerment of the people in the grassroots level became the common goal.

In Mindanao alone, hundred plus NGOs (some with national offices, while other NGOs are just focused here in Mindanao) are in full operation. Mindanao is one of the central "area of struggle" for poverty alleviation and peace and development.

One question commonly asked for NGO workers, is where do these organizations get its finances? Certainly not the government. While some would contend that their are some NGOs "kuno" that were formed by government itself, for the sake of argument here, let me just use NGOs that have its outside funding source.

NGOs get its funding outside, from international funding agencies (FAs). These FAs, depending on their advocacies and concentration, give financial support to the local NGOs. These FAs are either supported by Church- based institutions (i.e. from Presbyterian churches),donors from commercial companies (as part of their corporate social responsibility, i.e. WalMArt), or even foreign governments (such as AusAid, USAid).

The NGOs have partner or assisted communities with their respective projects "for development". Changes to achieve "development" can never be done within a specific time frame. Most of the times, the changes are even beyond or could not be measured. But the FAs have its own "measurement of development" and a specific time frame.


FAs could not support the NGOs for a lifetime. NGOs have to find its own resources or local counterparts to continue its advocacies or it would just wrap up and close doors after its project term. Enterprising (small enterprise development, value added production) is one way but it could not cover all the expenses the institutional expenses NGOs are incurring.

Sustainability is the key to development. But how does the NGO become sustainable? Without FA, does the NGO ceased to exist?

Just last year, financial losses in Europe and US are in the headlines. And with the FAs mostly from Europe and US, the NGOs are also affected. NGOs here in MIndanao are greatly affected. Will these NGOs ceased to exist?

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