Poverty Quiz: Now that you've learned about several methods of alleviating poverty, you might want to try out this quiz!
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In fighting poverty, governments and government-based international organizations (such as the World Bank and U.N.) can only go so far. In many countries, the majority of anti-poverty work falls on non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, which are non-profit organizations that often conduct humanitarian and development work around the world. If you look around the site, you’ll see many references to NGOs – Grameen Bank, ACCION, and Unitus, to name a few. However, there are thousands and thousands of NGOs based around the world fighting poverty.
Some of the largest NGOs are discussed in this section. For a list of other NGOs and organizations that fight poverty, check out the Poverty Relief Organizations in the Other section. Or, browse around the site – there are many references to various NGOs embedded in different sections.
What do NGOs do?
NGOs work to accomplish many different tasks. A broad definition of an NGO would include everything from a humanitarian/development organization such as CARE to an advocacy group for a political cause. For the purpose of this site, however, we focus solely on NGOs that work, in some way, to alleviate poverty through clear action (we consider ‘foundations’ which often provide money to NGOs, but do not take physical action against poverty themselves, as separate entities). When we use the term ‘NGO,’ we are referring to these organizations and not ALL NGOs in general.
Of the NGOs that work to end poverty there is still a great amount of variation. Some are microfinance institutions, which focus on providing financial services such as loans to the poor. Others assist communities with gaining access to clean water, or improving health. Some help in the education sector… the possibilities for an NGO trying to make a dent in poverty are endless. They are often more effective than government-run programs (which can be corrupt and inefficient), and when combined, the effect of all NGOs – large or small – on poverty is enormous.
Examples of NGOs
While many NGOs are small, city- or country-wide initiatives, some older NGOs have transformed into entities almost as powerful as the World Bank and other government-based organizations in the field of poverty alleviation. You’ve probably even heard of a few of them. These NGOs are usually based in developed countries such as the United States, Japan, and European nations, but have operations across the globe. A few are described below:
- CARE International:
CARE, one of the largest relief organizations in the world, was founded in the United States in 1945 to assist World War II refugees in Europe (‘CARE’ originally stood for ‘Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe’). Today, CARE’s core mission has changed significantly. While it still participates in relief efforts across the globe (CARE now stands for ‘Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere’), CARE now engages in longer-term programs to end poverty. CARE’s website states that its mission is “…to serve individuals and families in the poorest communities in the world.”
CARE works to end poverty on a massive scale: it has programs in over 72 countries, and more than 12,000 staff. It consists of 11 member organizations in various countries (such as CARE USA, CARE Japan, CARE UK, etc.). In 2004, CARE USA alone used a program budget of $517 million (CARE USA has over 350,000 donors) to conduct 870 poverty alleviation projects in 70 countries affecting 45 million people. This included reaching out to millions of people in a variety of areas: one million students in educational programs, seven million people in HIV/AIDS prevention drives, 6.5 million in agricultural programs, nine million in health service initiatives, and many, many more.
CARE in Madagascar: Malaria
One example of CARE’s international work can be seen in one of its malaria-fighting programs in Madagascar.
- Human Rights Watch:
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) focuses its attention not on poverty directly, but on human rights around the world. However, this indirectly helps fight poverty, for several reasons. As the HRW’s website puts it:
”Rather than handing out economic assistance – we are not a service-delivery organization – Human Rights Watch addresses the underlying causes of poverty, such as discrimination, armed conflict, and displacement. We also examine human rights violations that exacerbate humanitarian crises, such as restrictions on the media and attacks on humanitarian agencies. We press governments and international financial institutions to incorporate human rights concerns into their economic development strategies.”
HRW was founded in 1978, originally to monitor human rights abuses in former Soviet countries. Since then, it has become the largest U.S.-based human rights organization, with over 150 dedicated staff who travel the world, sometimes setting up temporary country offices, to document human rights abuses. HRW spends more than $21 million a year, advocating for equal rights, better governance, and HIV/AIDS awareness (it also helps protect the rights of people who are unfairly treated because they have AIDS or work with those who have AIDS), to name a few of its many program areas.
- Save the Children:
Save the Children was founded in 1919, in England, to help children suffering from the aftermath of World War I. Now, there are ‘Save the Children’ organizations in 27 countries, which together form the International Save the Children Alliance (very similar to the structure of CARE International). This Alliance works in 110 countries to help children around the world live better lives, conducting activities in many sectors – from education to HIV/AIDS to emergency relief work.
Oxfam, based in Oxford, England (Oxfam’s name comes from its telegraph address – OXFAM), is dedicated to fighting poverty and improving the lives of people across the globe. Like many other large NGOs, it is split into several organizations across several developed countries (in Oxfam’s case, 12). Oxfam works in 70 countries in many different poverty-related areas – gender equality, education, trade, debt relief, HIV/AIDS, etc.
Oxfam: Education in Vietnam
In 2003, two Oxfam organizations (Oxfam Great Britain and Oxfam New Zealand) created a program in the Lao Cai Province of Vietnam to increase school attendance rates (at the primary school level, only 53% of children regularly attend school), especially for girls.
About CARE USA
CARE USA Annual Report
CARE USA History
CARE USA: Madagascar Malaria Project
HRW: 20 Years
HRW: Who we Are
HRW: World AIDS Day
Oxfam: Education in Lao Cai Province