Thursday, July 3, 2008
Nepal has 18,000 active NGOs (non-governmental organizations for the uninitiated) working in the country.
Nepal is the square mileage size of Arkansas.
After you do the head math you are bound to ask me if I got my zeroes right, but yes, Nepal has 18,000 NGOs. I guess no one has delivered the "Pitfalls of Humanitarianism" lecture here.
Needless to say, NGO World here is just about the largest employer. As anywhere, NGOs mean brain drain away from government and other industries. Here the abundance of NGOs steers students toward degrees in the social sciences instead of business. And of course, the NGOs are doing the work of the government, letting them stay off the hook.
Don't get me wrong. I surely believe that NGOs and development work are important - but there are pitfalls.
So far, I have had the opportunity to meet with the staff at Poverty Alleviation Fund (World Bank) and Heifer Nepal. Tomorrow I meet with the Director of the Nepal Federation of NGOs. This weekend I have having dinner with Dr. Saubhagya Shah, Program Coordinator of Conflict, Peace & Development Studies at Tribuhuvan University and Asst. Professor in the Dept. of Sociology/Anthropology. He is also a guest writer for the Nepali Times and has some strong opinions about NGOs and the development of Nepal. Should make for lively dinner conversation.
Saturday, Carlyji and I are going to the American Club to celebrate America's Independence!
Happy 4th Everyone!