Undermined-Values and Foreign Aid NGOs

By D'Cruz, Don | Review - Institute of Public Affairs, December 2002 | Go to article overview

Undermined-Values and Foreign Aid NGOs


D'Cruz, Don, Review - Institute of Public Affairs


'Let us imagine an Australian voluntary aid organisation that has won a lucrative contract from the Australian government's overseas aid agency, AusAID. They are contracted to provide water to the people in a remote district of a country nearby. A large Australian mining company is also operating in the district with its own lucrative contract, and is supported by the military of that country. For local people,the predations of the mining company are a more immediate concern than an improved water supply, so they ask the Australian aid organisation to intercede on their behalf.

This request puts the organisation in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, they have a contract with AusAID that specifies the timing and outcomes of the water project, and requires them not to get involved in `politics'. On the other hand,the organisation's values of social justice and its commitment to the community make it very difficult for it to ignore the plight of people being exploited by the operations of a mining company. So what does it do?

The hypothetical dilemma is an everyday occurrence for Australia's voluntary aid agencies. Their work involves balancing their obligations to their donor (often the Australian government), to the people with whom they are working, and to their own organisational values.'

Patrick Kilby, Eureka Street (November 2002)1

THIS quotation from Patrick Kilby, a policy adviser to Oxfam Community Aid Abroad (CAA),2 exposes a fundamental flaw in Australia's foreign aid policy. While working on government contracts, aid NGOs are undertaking activities which are inappropriate for an official and supposedly neutral foreign aid agency-activities which are not in the interests of the Australian Government, or the host Government, or the local community.

The problem stems from flawed processes of screening and enforcement associated with contracting-- out and a failure to recognize that the values and motivations of many NGOs are incompatible with those of the Government-and indeed, of most Australians.

As Patrick Kilby accurately notes: `voluntary agencies exist not to represent a particular group in society ... but solely (emphasis added) to represent and promote certain values and, through those values, to represent those who are marginalized and voiceless'.3

NGOs are independent, values-- based organizations often run by a small group of activists dedicated to the pursuit of their institution's values. They are also increasingly political in nature, focusing on advocacy, campaigning, direct action and the mobilization of other committed believers. It is also clear from their actions and literature that many hold views and values at odds with those of mainstream Australia, developing countries and Australian governments of either persuasion. It is important to note that this is not solely an issue for Australia. It is one that most countries grapple with; some more successfully than others.

At the very least, therefore, governments should not contract out foreign aid activity to NGOs that hold different values and objectives to their own and they should closely monitor all the activities of the NGOs contracted to deliver aid. This is currently not being done and it is seriously undermining the effectiveness of our foreign policy as well as our relationships with neighbouring countries.

The Australian Government's values in respect to foreign aid are relatively clear.4

As Foreign Minister Downer noted in a recent speech, the core of Australian aid policy is the promotion of trade and investment in our neighbouring countries. Global foreign aid flows to developing countries world-wide currently amount to $90 billion per annum. This is dwarfed by the $200 billion in private foreign investment and the $3.6 trillion trade generated in these same countries.5 As such, foreign aid is a junior partner in the development equation; trade and investment are far more important. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Undermined-Values and Foreign Aid NGOs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.