Whether NGOs Can Ever Substitute Government in Promoting Social Welfare

Roles of the Government and the NGOs in promoting Social Welfare

Many people often wonder about why the NGOs or the Non Governmental Organizations need to work in the realm of social welfare as that is the job of the government. The reasoning behind this is that the primary role of the government is social welfare and hence, it has a duty and responsibility towards the citizens to promote social welfare. However, ever since the 1970s, governments across the world have been following the dictum of “less government is better government” wherein they withdraw from many areas concerning social welfare and instead let private organizations take over health, education, urban amenities, and other infrastructural services. An approach that came to be known as neoliberalism resulted in greater private sector participation in sectors that were traditionally the preserve of governments. Since privatization means that access to services is through a payment-based model for even basic services, the notion that social welfare was being market driven gained ground. This is where the NGOs the world over stepped in with their objectives of fulfilling the role that the government has to play but which it decided to abstain.

Some Reasons Why NGOs had to Step In

The second aspect about governmental failure, which the NGOs remedied, was in the realm of implementation of policies. Since policies are made for social welfare, the governments have a duty and a responsibility to actualize the noble principles behind such policies. Instead, citizens around the world realized that the governments were taking lesser and lesser interest in their welfare and hence, NGOs stepped into this gap as well. The point here is that NGOs quickly filled in the gaps in the roles that the government had to play and these were to do with fulfilling the need for basic services, failure to implement the policies, and third, suggesting, and advocating appropriate policies. The third aspect is another area where the NGOs found that they could make a difference in the actualization of social welfare. For instance, many NGOs like Greenpeace and Amnesty actively work to persuade governments to adopt certain policies that promote social welfare. Hence, this aspect has to be considered as well when discussing the role of NGOs in social welfare.

Globalization and NGOs

The fourth point about actualizing social welfare is that beginning from the early 1990s, globalization of the world economy meant that the poor and the less privileged were increasingly being shut out of the opportunities presented by the process as they either lacked the requisite skills or they did not have access to the processes. This is another area where the NGOs stepped in and ensured that these marginalized people had a voice and had someone to speak on behalf of them in the face of the corporate juggernaut.

Closing Thoughts

Finally, social welfare is best actualized by the government. Despite the many successes of NGOs, the fact remains that it is the duty of the government to promote social welfare and no amount of good work done by the NGOs can substitute for that done by the government.


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