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Do NGOs influence the sociopolitical life of Africa?

12.07.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Organizations also known as are non-profit making establishments that address political and social matters globally. They could be internationally recognized or limited within the confines of a church, school, town/city, village, hospital or affiliated to some government institutions. Some organizations are parastatal but those not related to governments are called Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Organizations can also be called syndicates, confederations, consortium, alliances, societies or associations.

Their purpose is to advocate for either economic or sociopolitical viability worldwide promoting justice, global solidarity, peace, health, equity, human rights, environmental conservation and trade by standing against war, human rights violation, marginalization, diseases, hunger, racism, climate change, species extinction, pollution, human safety, and poverty.

After Asia and Latin America, Africa is the next continent with diverse aggravated problems from all sectors of life. As perceived poor and unable to handle her problems, Africa has received and is still receiving a lot of intervention from both international organizations both within and without.

The most active International Non-Organizations in Africa are; United Nations (UN) and all her organs, World Wide Fund for nature (WWF), European Union (EU), Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), African Union (AU), Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (ECOWAS), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and many more.

How do they involve sociopolitical life in Africa?

NGOs are more flexible, more adaptive to change, closer to all those they serve or work with than governments; thus making them spend less in their activities because they are smaller. Africans, communities and governments accept or consider an NGO bad depending on whether it is working in their favour or not. This explains why many African countries with corrupt government systems, poor governance and bad policies see NGOs that stand out against them as a threat and do not collaborate.

  • Military Interventions

The UN has intervened in most African wars/armed conflicts through their various organs such as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) which is made up of 15 member states as the case of The 1992 Rwanda Genocide and is still intervening in the ongoing Libyan Civil War which broke out in 2014. It is widely argued in the Middle East and Africa that the UN is a mask of disguise used by some Western powers especially America to find their way into developing countries rich in natural resources.

  • Monitoring Elections

Many African governments have requested the assistance of NGOs to monitor referendum, municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections; a clear sign that they can and have influenced political change positively in Africa. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) with headquarters in Washington DC, USA between 1992 and 2002 has conducted four elections for Kenya. The Carter Center with headquarters in Atlanta-Georgia USA observed Mali’s 2002 presidential elections. The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance with headquarters in Stockholm Sweden has been working hand in glove with Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission, The Electoral Institute and The Centre for Democracy and Development.  .

  • Mediating in conflict resolutions

The United Nations Electoral Assistance Division of the Department of Political and Peace-building Affairs (UN EAD/DPPA) has been working closely with many African governments in post conflict elections, resolution agreements and peace maintenance. This was seen before South Sudan gained independence in 2011 after Second Sudanese War from 1983 to 2005. The European Union’s (EU’s) request to monitor October 2018 elections in Cameroon and also to mediate as an independent third party in the dialogue process to resolve the sociopolitical crisis in NW and SW regions of Cameroon is a clear indication that international non-governmental bodies are influencing peace in Africa.

  • Humanitarian Aid

The consequences of the countless artificial to natural problems in Africa have attracted many international institutions and the assistance of some organizations been requested for by many African governments which have yielded positive results; especially The Red Cross, World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Aid For Africa, Relief International (RI), United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and many more.

  • Full/Partial Funding of Projects

These Organizations have funded and are still funding projects in all sectors especially the provision of social amenities such as hospitals, schools, portable water, power, roads and food. In 2014, the EU launched the National Indicative Programme (NIP) for Mozambique in collaboration with the government and donated about €800 million to improve transparency and accountability in their democratic and legal systems and also to reduce poverty, improve social stability and promote a convenient business environment.

  • Justice and Peace

Many cases of injustice in Africa have been addressed by Organizations like Amnesty International, The International Court of Justice (ICJ) and The International Development Law Organization (IDLO). Amnesty International in 2018 reacted to the uninvestigated mass arrests, torture and killings done by the Cameroon government in the Far North Region after Boko Haram terrorism increased by mounting pressure on the Cameroon government to stop torture and killings without investigations and follow due legal proceedings.

Many Religions backed organizations are also instrumental in this aspect especially under Christianity and Islam. The Focolare Movement and Caritas Internationalis both with headquarters in Rome are some common examples under the Roman Catholic Church while the Muslim Voice for Peace and Reconciliation with headquarters in Washington DC-USA is under Islam.

Despite these positive results from the involvement of international organizations in the sociopolitical lives of Africans, many are still not in support of their activities for reasons that;

They collaborate with the same governments Africans consider a failure

They have secondary motives of taking over the control of resources I Africa since they are often sponsored by the governments of Western Nations.    

Article from AFRIC editorial

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