The Role of NGOs in Community Welfare
The World Health Organization defines an NGO as ‘A non-profit making, voluntary, service-oriented/development oriented organization, either for the benefit of members (a grassroots organization) or of other members of the population (an agency).’ This definition clearly stipulates the roles and functions of an NGO to a given community.
In order to understand the different functions of an NGO it is necessary to understand that there are different types. NGOs have been divided by WHO according to their level of operation and their orientation. When basing on their orientation, you will find NGOs with a charitable orientation. This kind of an NGO has a top down kind of paternalistic structure in service delivery. Such an NGO will be involved in distributing food stuffs and other things to the less fortunate.
NGOs with a service orientation allows community participation. It mostly deals with providing health services and educating the community. Those with a participatory orientation empowers the community members to meet their own needs.
By level of operation, NGOs are divided as Community Based Organizations, citywide, national and international organizations. CBOs arise out of the initiative of the people themselves. They can be formed by members of a given neighborhood, gender groups, and religious organizations among many other kinds. There are hundreds of international NGOs that provide services to communities living in faraway places.
Regardless of their orientation and level of operation NGOs are designed to carry out a number of core functions including:
- Developing and operating infrastructure
CBOs can acquire land, have it subdivided and even contrast buildings for the purpose of running the project’s activities. The CBOs can also participate in the maintenance of public facilities like toilets and waste collection facilities. Most times, these activities will be done with the support of an international or national NGO and the government.
- Encouraging communication
Development communication is at the core of the success of any project activities.in order to gain the audience and trust of the community where they plan to run their projects NGOs must apply the appropriate communication strategies. NGOs also need to communicate with the governments where they plan to run their activities.
NGOs play the function of safeguarding the rights of the voiceless in the community. Those people who are being denied their rights yet they are not even aware can rely on NGOs to help them by speaking out on their behalf. NGOs achieve this through various means including demonstrations and educating the necessary leaders.
- Training and technical assistance
NGOs train governments and CBOs on various ways through which they can make their lives better. Community health volunteers are a good example of a product of the teaching and training of communities. Paraprofessionals who are trained by NGOs are able to reach the members of the community who are never reached by government services.
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