Overview of NGOs in Pakistan

'We discuss some NGOs in Pakistan and their efforts in working towards positively impacting and uplifting the society as a whole and continuing to work for its betterment. They also act as a bridge amongst essential stakeholders, especially those who are most affected by government inaction and appease the policymakers'

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NGOs (non-governmental organisations) play a significant role in developing society, improving communities and promoting citizen participation. Their contribution to the GDP of the economy is not much, but their overall part in improving the human development index or social progression index is irrefutable. In today’s world, as much as we appreciate the efforts of non-government, non-profit organizations, their work in the development sector is genuinely commendable. Other than a few government institutions, it is the non-profit organizations putting in resources, time, and efforts to fight the social issues and injustices embedded in society. Non-profit organizations are playing an essential role in the construction of healthy and secure communities by providing their assistance and services, which leads to economic stability and mobility.

One significant advantage of a non-profit organization in assisting the society is that they tend to act faster than the government. They work closely with the people on the ground and quickly access the immediate area in the occurrence of a significant issue. Moreover, NGOs do not wait for the majority vote and can provide for a needy person or groups of persons. Another critical function of NGOs is that they promote individual-led initiatives that impact the whole public. Whatever the problem, whether health, education or an emergency, NGOs are present to provide relief to the people timely. Various social issues from alleviating poverty to fighting injustices, from providing clean water to better healthcare facilities, are dealt with by NGOs, whether large or small. Every organization is playing a part of its own. Based on its strong community links and vast knowledge of the situation, NGOs can understand and cater to the needs of the community and fulfill them using the best ways possible. NGOs that are robust and well-resourced can boost growth and opportunity in the community based on their connections along with decision making authorities. Below, we take a more in-depth look at how certain NGOs have set their ground and are benefitting the people of Pakistan by tackling social issues.

  1. Poverty: Extreme poverty is a burden borne by a nation. Living in extreme poverty is not just about the availability or accessibility of basic needs such as food, water or shelter but is linked to homelessness, hunger, poor health along with lack of sanitation, clean water, health, and education. Many NGOs in Pakistan are fighting poverty. These NGOs have lifted people out of poverty and allowed them to earn a sustainable income so that their futures become secure. One such profound non-profit organization working for this particular cause is Seed Out. Seed Out is the most prominent and leading not for profit organization, which is working to alleviate poverty in Pakistan by establishing micro-entrepreneurs through interest-free micro-financing. Founded by Zain Ashraf Mughal in 2013 in Lahore, Seed Out operates in four different cities of Pakistan. Seed Out’s unique online crowdfunding platform allows the donor to donate to the underprivileged person they wish. The borrower is given interest-free in-kind loans to establish a small business and earn a sustainable income. Seed Out has successfully pulled out hundreds of Pakistanis and their families out of poverty and continues its mission against poverty in the years to come. Another organization working to alleviate poverty in Pakistan is Akhuwat. Founded in 2001 by Dr. Amjad Saqib, Akhuwat’s head office sits in Lahore. Akhuwat started as an interest-free microfinance organization that focused on making Pakistan a poverty-free nation. It provides interest-free loans to the poverty-stricken for them to establish their businesses. Akhuwat has built a university that aims to provide free of cost higher education to the less privileged youth of Pakistan. The organization also provides health care, meals, clothes to the underprivileged and support to the Khawaja Sirah community.
  2. Education: According to authentic estimates, the ratio of children dropping out of schools is high, but the role NGOs have played in promoting education in the country is praise-worthy. They have shared the burden of government. Several NGOs have contributed and even helped build several educational institutions across the nation, especially in the remote areas. The benefit of creating these schools and institutions is that residents are given educational opportunities at minimum or no cost. Organizations such as TCF, Care Foundation and Misbah Momin Foundation are working towards providing high-quality education to the underprivileged children in Pakistan. These organizations have built schools and sponsored the education of multiple children. The Citizens Foundation (TCF) is the largest non-profit organization that is devotedly working to provide education to the underprivileged children in Pakistan. TCF was founded by a group of citizens in Karachi back in 1995. With its quality work in the field of education, it has successfully established more than 1500 schools nationwide with an enrolment of almost 252,000 students. TCF further aims to adopt various government schools in the future. Care Foundation is another leading non-profit organization that works towards providing quality education for all. Founded in 1988 by Ms. Seema Aziz, Director of Sefam Group, established its first school in the locality of Sheikhupura. Care Foundation aims to empower the children of underprivileged communities by providing them a high-quality education. Currently, Care Foundation operates 888 schools all over Pakistan.
  3. Humanitarian services: In response to an emergency or crisis, NGOs provide quick material and logistical assistance to the disaster or tragedy struck areas. The disasters could be of any sort, natural or human-made. The objective of delivering humanitarian aid is to save life on an emergency basis and reduce the suffering of a particular person or community. One brilliant NGO working towards providing humanitarian assistance round the clock is Edhi Foundation. Edhi Foundation is one of Pakistan’s leading humanitarian and social welfare services organizations. Founded in 1947 by Abdul Sattar Edhi, a prominent social worker based in Karachi, Edhi Foundation offers exemplary social services from orphanages to mobile dispensaries, hospitals, and diabetic centres to homes for the homeless, the disabled and women and the elderly rejected by their families. It has the world’s largest ambulance service providing round the clock services to every member of the society. The second-best humanitarian aid provider NGO is the Chhipa Welfare Association in Pakistan. Chhipa Welfare Association is one of the leading non-profit organizations in Pakistan, which is dedicated to providing humanitarian and welfare services to the underprivileged community. Founded in 2007 by Ramzan Chhipa, its headquarters are located in Karachi. The services of the association include financial assistance and free or low-cost food to the poor and the operation of a well-established speedy ambulance service within Karachi. Another great NGO, Alkhidmat Foundation is a remarkable example of a charitable organization that is considered as one of the largest networks for humanitarian services. Alkhidmat got registered as an NGO under the Societies Act in 1990 with its head office based in Lahore. Its welfare services include disaster management, health services, education, orphan care, clean water, Mawakhat (interest-free loan) and other community services for the vulnerable communities of Pakistan.
  4. Healthcare and medical services: In Pakistan, access to quality healthcare and medical services for the underprivileged is not easy. The government hospitals are doing their best to cater to several patients, but many are still left untreated. However, the poor cannot go to private hospitals as they are too expensive. Several renowned NGOs in Pakistan provide high-quality medical care at discounted rates and to those in need. Such NGOs also set up health camps and portable clinics in remote areas to help provide for a free medical checkup. A state-of-the-art hospital, Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital, is a non-profit cancer hospital providing thousands of cancer patients free of cost medical care. Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH) is the leading and most renowned charitable organization in Pakistan. Established in 1994 by famous cricketer and now Prime Minister Imran Khan, SKMCH serves as the largest cancer hospital in Pakistan with almost 75 percent of all cancer patients receiving financial support. It aims to end the suffering of thousands of cancer patients each year by applying modern techniques and therapies. Another great NGO providing healthcare services to patients is Transparent Hands. Transparent Hands is a distinguished non-profit organization working dedicatedly in delivering health care services to the deserving and less privileged patients. It offers free of cost medical services at renowned private hospitals. Founded by Rameeza Mueen, Transparent Hand’s head office is in Lahore. The organization arranges funds for the surgeries of deserving patients through charity. Their online crowdfunding portal allows the donor to donate to the patient of his/her choice.
  5. Human Rights: Several NGOs in the world are dedicated to protecting human rights and end abuses against it. Such NGOs call for prompt remedial support and action from government authorities and strong public advocacies. Below is an example of a brilliant Human rights NGO in Pakistan, Ansar Burney Trust International. Ansar Burney Trust is known to be the first non-profit activist organization that introduced the correct concept of human rights in Pakistan. It delivers justice and better treatment to the victims of human rights abuse. The organization was founded by the human rights advocate, Ansar Burney in 1980 to fight all forms of injustice. The trust provides free legal advice and humanitarian support for the unfortunate human beings.
  6. Women’s Rights: Multiple NGOs are making a difference in the lives of oppressed women and promote gender equality. Two of the most renowned NGOs that work for the rights of women are mentioned below. One such NGO is the Aurat Foundation, which works for the promotion and protection of women’s rights and demands gender equality. Aurat Foundation (AF) is one of the significant charity organizations, which is working for the welfare of women in Pakistani society. Established in 1986, AF is an activist charity organization that has its head office in Islamabad, five regional offices in the provincial capitals and 37 field offices all over Pakistan. AF aims to empower women by providing greater access to education, resources, and institutions, along with the commitment to raise widespread awareness about equal human rights for all. Another excellent example of an NGO supporting women’s rights is Kashf Foundation. Kashf Foundation is a prominent non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of underprivileged women of Pakistan. Roshaneh Zafar founded Kashf in 1996 as a micro-finance institution that offered cost-effective micro-finance services to low-income households, especially women. It aims to eradicate poverty in such homes by empowering women and have an economic and social impact at the household.

All these NGOs provide us basic needs, which are the rights of every person. The role of NGOs that are common for almost all the NGOs in the developed countries with regard to development in different fields as in education, health, women welfare etc. This range of activities varies from one country to the other. In Pakistan, nearly half of the NGO’s are committed to programs for women development while some NGOs have played an important role in creating awareness and human rights issues. Some have worked in health care, water and sanitation, education and other useful projects. NGOs in Pakistan can be divided into several broad categories:

  • Advocacy and lobbying
  • Policy issues and debates
  • Emergency, rehabilitation and relief organizations
  • Implementation of development projects and programs

Research suggests that there are some sectors vacant for development and working as follows where the role of NGOs in future will be appreciated.

  • Environments and energy saving
  • Traffic education and awareness
  • Arbitration and mediation in families

NGOs are playing a very important role for overall development of the underdeveloped segments of society through a rights based approach and service delivery.