ENDING POVERTY AND INEQUALITY: What NGOs can do beyond Donations and “Photo Ops”


- By Abdulhakeem Abdulkareem & Abdulquadri Yusuf


The world today, is in a plethora of irony and ironical conditions. The world has never been richer as it is, yet, the index of extreme poverty remains worrisome. Technology has created ease and comfort, yet, many people have become displaced as a result of conflict and disaster. Global institutions have grown stronger and better in promoting world peace, yet, many nations have been plunged into long years of wars leading to a staggering statistics of loses never heard of in history. Most importantly, people (mostly youth) are becoming more concerned and participatory towards their societal welfare, yet, levels of socioeconomic development are worrisome and wanton.

(Photo: Martin Barraud/Getty Images)

The efforts of other institutionalised organisations, most especially, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) towards contributing to social development cannot be overemphasised. For over half of a century, they are increasingly contributing positively in different sectors of the economy like Health, education, lifestyle, etc. They have indeed helped the government in sharing the burden of governance and improving the lives of common people.

In Nigeria today, there’s a progressive increase in the numbers of NGOs (which already has 50,000 registered under different agencies) carrying different activities towards contributing to the social development of the society. Most of these organisations (which are usually owned and managed by young people) have increasingly shown interest in alleviating poverty through aids and donations.

Despite these efforts, major communities in the country are still poor, marginalised and maligned. Africa still remains the poorest continent in the world and the Sub-Sahara region (which Nigeria occupies a chunk of its population) still holds the highest number of people living in extreme poverty. Thus, the need to ask, how much should we actually give the poor to “unpoor” them?

Trends in Donations by NGOs

According to the World Bank, NGOs are “private organisations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development”. Indeed, the effort of many of these organisations have been fruitful and positive, leading to jobs creation, provision of relief materials and reconstruction of destabilised areas, among others.

(Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

However, many of these organisations, most especially new and less structured ones embark on activities that promote personal acclivities and social relevance instead of making real impacts. They go about with mendacious claims and photo spree to attract an audience, donors and fundraisers.

Agreeably, it is essential to seek for donors and foreign aids, however, aside from other arguments on the credibility of these aids, some are turned to personal wealth or shared miserably amidst the poor people. Unfortunately, the poor continue to remain poor despite the number of money, clothes and provisions given to them.

Alternative Measures to Cracking the Menace

Ending extreme poverty goes beyond donating money and materials. These might provide immediate succour but in the long run, the poor will remain poor and relegated in the society. Indeed, there’s no specific solution to ending poverty due to its complexity, therefore, it is essential to look inwards to solve and counter it. Instead of donating cash, NGOs should;

(Photo: buzzingbubs.com)

 Adequately measure poverty and its variability. Without a true knowledge of poverty index and its peculiar causes, it might be difficult understanding how to tackle it. By measuring the needs of the people, they can begin to understand the best and probable solutions and approaches to be adopted.

Render other support than donations: improving social infrastructures, supporting and promoting quality education, improving access to health, provision of employment, etc. these are measures we can take to empower the people and make them feel inclusive and relevant.

Collaboration: by joining hands with other organisations, they can gather more funds enough to embark on more meaningful projects and make relevant impacts.

Lessons from Other Players

In China, an organisation called the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation uses several programmes and project to alleviate poverty by unburdening the people from some expenses that could make them poor. For example, they have the “Breadwinner Medical Aid Program” which raises funds online and mobilises resources to provide medical aids and support for their beneficiaries. As a result, they are preventing families from being poor by unburdening them of medical bills.

Also, Build Africa is another charity using education to end poverty. They knew quality education is a parameter to ending poverty in the long run, therefore, they alleviate poverty in rural communities by unburdening the stress of school fees. Equally, they provide and ensure quality education and skills development for children that cannot afford to go to school.


Poverty is a result of several burdens which purchasing powers could not overcome. It is a reflection of incapability. Therefore, it is important to understand what the poor are incapable of doing that have made them to be poor. It is not by the number of clothes or shoes or gadgets, it is about situations they are not capable of changing. Donating cash and kinds might not solve their major problem, instead, focusing more on what money is used for can. Therefore, NGOs should work more on helping the poor be relieving them of these burdens or making them capable to relieve themselves.


Abdulhakeem Abdulkareem is a Content Writer and a Development Analyst. His area of interest includes Social Development, Human Rights and Climate Change. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Abdulquadri Yusuf is a poet and content creator and founder, Calox Laundry and Dry Cleaning Services. He engages in humanitarian activities by volunteering for NGOs around him.


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