We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Haiti had how many NGOs before the earthquake??

Just read an article by Afua Hirsch in the Guardian called “How can lawyers help Haiti?

“By going away” was the general opinion expressed in the comments. A little harsh, I thought, given that establishing a more solid rule of law might indeed help reconstruction there. But I am not really interested in that coz my gob just got smacked. In passing, Ms Hirsch mentioned this little fact:

…what is happening to millions of extra dollars pouring into a country that already had a staggering 10,000 NGOs before the earthquake. For an island with a population of fewer than 10 million, there is at least one NGO per 1,000 people.

Blimey. Ten thousand. Not ten thousand people, ten thousand organisations. Of the sort called “non-governmental” although that is a lie. And that was before the earthquake. Ah well, ’tis an ill wind that blows nobody any good. Just think, had not the earthquake come along all these helpers might have solved all Haiti’s problems and left themselves with nothing to do.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

25 comments to Haiti had how many NGOs before the earthquake??

  • Crikey. Had I been forced to guess I would have said 20.

  • I am impressed that the number is ten thousand, but really, Mark, where have you been?

    Go to the capital of any third world country. Look on a map for a cluster of nice international hotels in a scenic part of town not too far from where all the embassies are. Look for internationalish restaurants (say Italian or French), bars with blackboards outside showing scores of European soccer matches, and that kind of thing. Walk inside the first such establishment you find. Swing a cat. You will have hit members of at least 20 NGOs. At least one of these people will work for the WWF, Greenpeace, or some other NGO explicitly opposed to cat swinging, but they will probably not harass you over it as they will be too busy enjoying the lifestyle – really very pleasant in these sorts of places on what the NGOs pay.

  • Brian, follower of Deornoth

    It’s not just the decadent West, is it?

    The whole world is overrun with vermin.

  • lukas

    It depends on what we consider an NGO, doesn’t it? If every little football team and countrywomen’s association gets to count, 10,000 demonstrates a rather staggering absence of anything resembling civil society.

  • Lukas, ccording to this leftwing source from 2008 it was foreign funded NGOs.

    On a point of terminology, football teams and countrywomen’s associations are actual non-governmental organisations and are indeed part of civil society. “NGO”s such as Oxfam and Greenpeace were too, at one time, but once they started getting a substantial part of their funding from government they stopped being non-governmental and they stopped being part of civil society.

  • lukas

    Hmm, so what do people actually mean when they talk about NGOs?

    And again, your source doesn’t spell out how many of the 10,000 are funded by foreign governments. It probably is a substantial fraction, but then someone who decries the influence of donors and wishes that all the money should be funnelled through Haiti’s government doesn’t have to concern himself with such trivial matters.

  • but then someone who decries the influence of donors and wishes that all the money should be funnelled through Haiti’s government doesn’t have to concern himself with such trivial matters.

    Who exactly is that ‘someone’?

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    NGO organizations are a total scam. Providing they get “booze, broads and bread” they are as happy as Larry. But some are into paedophelia, so not entirely harmless. See them cruise around the capital city in their $80,000 clean SUVs that almost never go up country. Said vehicles are sold on to bent local officials after two years in a sweetheart deal. But NGOs aren’t as harmful as the missionaries, who kidnap children (orphans with living parents) for lucrative adoption in the first world.
    However, third-world governments realise the NGO/missionary groups are in fact fifth column organisations intended to go in under the radar prior to commercial exploitation. Most of the missionaries are dupes whose purpose is cover.
    So never give a penny to these so-called aid organisations. They are skilled in advertising and soliciting funds, but if 2-3% trickles down to the intended recipients it’s a major success story. Sure, you feel good about yourself by donating, but all you’ve done is to keep fat NGOs in the manner they would like to become accustomed. If you really want to help, get into the field and team up with an independent aid worker as I have done in Laos. And there’s a lot more dirt I have even touched on.

  • lukas

    Alisa, that would be Nikolas Barry-Shaw, the author of the article that Natalie linked to.

    I’m not denying that there are NGOs that are basically country clubs for white-guilt-ridden do-gooders, as Michael and Jack so aptly described them. But a genuinely non-governmental NGO that emerges out of civil society to address a common need is very much a good thing. Alas, in the world of aid, it is very hard to discern the good, the bad and the ugly.

  • Thanks Lukas, obviously I should have followed the link…

  • jdm

    Just curious, does this lukas person actually have a point? I mean, outside of disagreeing.

  • lukas

    Sure I do. Indulge your curiosity: NGOs are a very good thing, as long as they remain non-governmental. The number of NGOs does not tell us much about anything, especially since no one feels compelled to provide a definition of “NGO”.

  • paul

    i just wonder if any of you truly understand what true ngo’s are doing? why don’t you come and see…and then sit on the shitter like i just did for half an hour with the runs because i just returned from haiti for the third time in less than a year.. is there corruption, yes? but are there people who have given their lives to others, yes? why don’t you try it? have you ever held a child that just continued to hug you because they did not want you to let them go? do you understand? do you really want to understand? put your money where your mouth is and taste the dirt of crushed buildings and the filth of disease.

  • Sunfish

    Paul-

    Been there, done that, ex-wife stole the t-shirt. Having a warm fuzzy feeling about doing whatever the hell you did in Haiti is nice but does not refute anything that anybody else has said.

  • paul

    to be fair…while in haiti this past week, i was told that there are more ngo’s in haiti than in all of india.. my question was.. where? i never did see a red cross vehicle.. saw a few of their signs posted on tent walls of tent cities. saw and met many individual committed volunteer aid and care givers, docs, humanitarian etc. the UN a few police, as to the dollars given to the large orgs.. i wondered why the bottled water sat behind a fence behind a warehousing area and was not just left to be used in the large filthy tent cities waiting for the next earth quake only this time it will be the disease spread by the rains that have begun in the north and are moving to port au prince. ps. i just got off of the crapper again.. want to go see what i saw? go and give

  • paul

    to be fair…while in haiti this past week, i was told that there are more ngo’s in haiti than in all of india.. my question was.. where? i never did see a red cross vehicle.. saw a few of their signs posted on tent walls of tent cities. saw and met many individual committed volunteer aid and care givers, docs, humanitarian etc. the UN a few police, as to the dollars given to the large orgs.. i wondered why the bottled water sat behind a fence behind a warehousing area and was not just left to be used in the large filthy tent cities waiting for the next earth quake only this time it will be the disease spread by the rains that have begun in the north and are moving to port au prince. ps. i just got off of the crapper again.. want to go see what i saw? go and give

  • kentuckyliz

    Haiti benefits more from me staying right where I am to earn the money to donate to them…and helping the Haitian international students enrolled at my college.

    Wasting my time at Poor Brown People Summer Camp doesn’t do them any good.

  • Fred the Fourth

    NGOs? Am I just very old, or am I the only one who remembers when they were all called QUANGOs? (and for good reasons…)

  • Paul Marks

    But Mr M. Moore said that Haiti was a free market place – and that more regulations and government spending would have prevented the buildings collapsing in the earthquake (it was lack of “enforced building codes” you see – it would be easy to afford earthquake proof buildings in a third world country if it were not for greedy capitalists).

    Do not tell me that the fat Communist millionaire “car worker” (ONE DAY, many years ago, in a G.M. plant so that he could get a U.A.W. card to wave) is a LIAR.

    You have destroyed my faith in the mainstream media Natalie.

    Next you will be saying that Channel Four did not get in a truthful person when they got Mr Moore to explain American health care.

  • Gordon

    Even before the eartquake Haiti was completely broken. I have a friend who was born in Port au Prince and still has many relatives there, mostly poor peasant farmers. Papa Doc was, for a right wing bastard like me, the epitome of an evil corrupt third world dictator, but apparently since his time the country has degenerated into complete anarchy where nobody is safe. At least here in France the media talked openly about the total absence of government. I haven’t noticed a similar honesty in the British press.

  • Paul Marks

    A totally absence of “government” in the sense of order – but the state is eveywhere. As are would-be states (violent criminal gangs).

  • Paul Marks

    The absance of secure private property rights (whether from the offical state or the unoffical ones) in Haiti can be seen even from the air.

    Even in the (far from perfect) Domincan Republic next door there are many well managed estates – the land is green.

    In Haiti (the other half of the same island) the trees are cut down, and no one manages the land for the long term – for there is no long term security in ownership.

  • Laird

    Paul, your post got me to thinking and I’ve tried to find out the extent to which the Dominican Republic was damaged by the earthquake. The answer appears to be “very little”, which seems odd (to me, anyway) since they share the same small island. Have you (or anyone else here) any thoughts on that? Is it a function of the DR’s relatively-functioning society and rule of law, or was it mere luck because the quake was extremely localized, or something else?

  • A

    Yes, the quake was localized. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake (not a particularly strong one compared to the 8.0 one in Chile) was centered right outside of Port-au-Prince. The rest of the country (and most of the island) felt the quake, but were otherwise unaffected.

  • Joanne

    While Chile’s earthquake was far stronger than Haiti’s, please note that Chile’s “quake was centered offshore an estimated 21 miles (34 kilometers) underground in a relatively unpopulated area while Haiti’s tectonic mayhem struck closer to the surface – about 8 miles (13 kilometers) – and right on the edge of Port-au-Prince”. Port-au-Prince’s population is (was) an estimated 3 million at the time.

    Not discounting the fact that Chile is a whole lot wealthier than Haiti, Chile was better prepared because they are fortunately and unfortunately more experienced at handling such catastrophies. Haiti has not seen such an earthquake in over 200 years.