NGOs and corruption: a toxic combination.
One large concern I had to face in Tanzanian was the question of the Non Governmental Organizations’ role in a country that is struggling to develop. Not that Tanzania is lacking resources. Not that it is lacking man power. But corruption in addition of a high presence of NGOs makes it very difficult for a country to reach actual development.
What I saw in Tanzania is a very large number of NGOs, many of which are doing an amazing work in education, health and empowerment.The problem is that the State is relying on NGOs to do the work. The problem is that the State should be doing that work. Just to be clear, I am not trying to say that NGOs are a gangrene to the society and that their presence is not desired. Not at all. However, just like the old saying goes, give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day, teach a man how to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime. The key words are educate and empower. Thankfully many organizations already understand that, and work mainly on empowering the local population, hoping for the day that the foreign presence will not be necessary anymore. Inherit Your Rights is one of them, which is why I really enjoyed working there.
The other problem that comes in combination with what I like to call the NGO addiction is corruption. That is most certainly a gangrene to the society. It touches every level of it and destroys, if not already kills in the egg, the most necessary institutions and development projects the country needs. I always wonder what is the root of corruption. Especially considering that it is very often the powerful ones that abuse the weaker people. When you have nothing, you take what you can in the moment. There is no real consideration for ‘sustainable development’, for ‘what I invest today will flourish tomorrow’. For many, it is ‘I take now what I can get now’, because there might be nothing tomorrow. This way of thinking about wealth and enrichment is not specific to Tanzania. I saw that a lot in Tunisia, where many people live for today, without ever thinking of tomorrow, because that is in the hands of God. This fatalism tends to paralyze the society. It is not possible to build generations lasting projects if you refuse to think of tomorrow and leave it in the hands of fate.
I am not a fatalist, I believe that there can be an end to corruption and dependence. You only need to look at your children and see the strength in their eyes.
African lesson n°10: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.” J.F.K.