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Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs)

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Non Governmental Organisations, or NGOs, are private organisations that provide development assistance. The organizations are very varied and diverse. They may be religious groups, charities, groups of health care workers or agricultural scientists. They may be international NGOs such as Oxfam, Medicin San Frontiers and CARE that channel financial assistance from outside the country or they may be National NGOs which provide development assistance from within the country concerned.

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They are often voluntary organizations that aim to work at grassroots level within individual communities focusing on specific areas of assistance such as emergency famine relief, protecting children's health, empowering women, poverty relief, environmental protection, protection of human rights and providing microcredit.

Usually these NGOs are not politically or ideologically tied, are generally trusted and are seen by the public as targeting their funding to the poorest and most disadvantaged people within society.

However, some are criticised for adopting an overly patronising stance towards the recipients of the aid without sufficiently catering for the actual needs of the local communities and only providing a perceived need. It is argued that they also responsible for encouraging a dependency culture. In the case of some charities it is also suggested that they take the pressure off national governments from having to act and engage in bilateral development assistance. Nevertheless, the number of NGOs has grown considerably during last twenty years.

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Related Glossary Items:
Bilateral aid

Related Issues:
CARE International: A case study of an NGO