The red cross is the "oldest" NGO, but they note:
ah but the problem?
Actually, the Catholic Church could be considered one of the first major NGOs, as it organized large scale charity efforts over a thousand years ago.
Several decades ago, the main thing these outsiders brought with them was food and medical care. The people on the receiving end were pretty desperate, and grateful for the help. But NGOs have branched out into development and social programs.so although one sees a lot of criticism of churches that push religion with aid, a lot of NGO's push western ideas with aid instead.
These new activities caused unexpected problems with the local leadership. Development programs disrupt the existing economic, and political, relations. This is especially the case if the NGOs try to change the way things are done. The local leaders are often not happy with this, as the NGOs are not always willing to work closely with the existing power structure. While the local worthies may be exploitative, and even corrupt, they are local, and they do know more about popular attitudes and ideals than the foreigners
. NGOs are no longer seen as just charitable foreigners come to help. The local leadership often sees the NGOs as a potential threat. While the material aid the NGOs bring is appreciated, the different ideas are not. And there are more NGOs showing up with more agenda than physical aid
Pushing birth control as part of the agenda is a big thing: I had to laugh when the flooding in Manila left many taking shelter in schools, and the UN came and gave out condoms...the locals were insulted, because it implied our women were sex crazed and couldn't refrain themselves. Then the UN defended this by saying it was because of rape, which locals got even more upset, since it implied Filipino men were sexually crazed rapists.
of course, if the aid is given to local politicians etc. a lot of it ends up in their pockets.
Yet paying huge salaries to western aid workers increases the overhead cost too.
Often more than a third of it disappears into the pockets of government officials, their kin and friends. But letting the donors, and NGOs (Non-governmental organizations, like the Red Cross), handle the money also sees about the same portion lost. (italics mine)
This is because these donations often come with requirements that much of the money be spent on goods and services from the donor nation. This particularly bothers the locals as it means a lot of highly (especially by local standards) paid Western aid workers are supervising whatever is done in in the aid receiving nation. The higher NGO pay standards are very visible because the Westerners tend to live much better than locals.
StrategyPage is observing, not criticizing. Without the NGO's and church charities, the place would be worse, especially in times of disaster.