Although the public's principal source of information on complex humanitarian emergencies is no doubt derived from electronic media coverage, a second, nearly as potent, source of news comes from humanitarian organizations working in the developing world. In Europe and the developing world these groups are known as nongovernmental organizations ( NGOS) and in America as private voluntary organizations ( PVOs). When a reporter covering a famine interviews a young, idealistic relief worker, the worker is likely an employee of an NGO.
NGOS, in a very tangible sense, have become the foot soldiers in the war against hunger and disease in complex humanitarian emergencies. NGO workers are the ones who manage the health clinics, the emergency child feeding centers, and the truck convoys that deliver the food that sustains people in crisis. Although other institutions that form the structure of the response system -- the UN, ICRC, and the military -- perform some of the same tasks themselves, the great bulk of the relief workforce comes from NGOS. Last year NGOs based in the Western democracies spent nearly $9 billion on relief and sustainable development programs in the developing world; half of this was attributable to American NGOs alone.
In fiscal year 1994, 57.3 percent of OFDA's funding for relief response was provided through NGO grants; the remainder went directly through UN agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Most of these grants were directed to