Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 October 2020
Chapter 8 takes a broader historical view of humanitarian aid in Africa by revealing how nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are the “missionaries” of the twenty-first century. In the wake of the 1970s and 1980s Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) of the IMF and World Bank, NGOs stepped in to fill the gap in social services that the now bankrupt and inept African governments could not provide. Until recently the vast majority of these NGOs have been international NGOs (INGOs) established, run, and funded by Europeans or North Americans. Like the missionaries who came to end the slave trade and bring “civilization” to Africa a century earlier, INGOs function on a platform of humanitarianism, human rights, and development for the poor. Whether in the form of slave narratives collected by abolitionist missionaries or television commercials asking for donations to help feed starving African children, not-for-profit organizations have generated an industry of fundraising in order to “save” Africans. More recently African individuals and communities have launched local NGOs that target causes they deem most important, such as women’s economic inequality, environmental degradation, and cultural preservation.