By Anna

Haiti has long been called “The Republic of NGOs” because more than 3,000 Non-Governmental Organizations operate in Haiti, according to the United States Institute of Peace.

Before (and after) the January earthquake, people criticized the number of NGOs and UN workers involved in Haiti’s well being. One blogger called them the “Neo-imperialists,” and another “invaders.” Three thousand organizations in one country is a lot too, but my critique is not in the number it’s in the activity of the number.

How many of these NGOs are infusing local growth and stability and how many are going so far as to capitalize on Haiti’s poverty? If NGOs are not involved in training local leaders, to provide jobs and economic growth they should rethink their mission.

A friend of mine this week asked me if I thought all these NGOs were exploiting Haitians because of all the excessive advertising for donating to Haiti now. I think it is a possibility, which is why it’s important to know an organization well before donating. Yes, Haiti needs our help and if an NGO has long been established in Haiti (which 3,000 have) they probably do need money right now. But texting 90999 to The Red Cross isn’t making much of a dent in Haiti’s recovery.

The solution for Haiti isn’t more money and more NGOs, the solution should be within Haiti. The United States Government and its NGOs haven’t found a solution for poverty here, so how will they manage to solve Haiti’s problems?

Reporter Marcela Valente said a solution could be found in mutual cooperation between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. If the United States urged more government solutions in Haiti, their long-term future could be more stable, but resources are limited on the island and water is now their greatest need.

The point is Haiti has always needed economic help and photos of post-earthquake kids and bodies is meant to make people aware of the situation they are now in, not to make anyone feel guilty for not texting or not going down to move concrete. So be wary of the point of NGO photos and calls for donations.