NGOs in Latin America

The historical background

There is no single universally accepted estimate of the number of NGOs active in Latin America, and no single taxonomy of the different types of NGO. However, everything indicates that the last decades have seen a significant expansion of NGO numbers and activity, and that NGOs as a group are extremely diverse. A United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) paper published in 2001 noted the existence of over 200,000 non-profits in Brazil. The paper also cited a census conducted in the early 1990s in Colombia which revealed there were 42,582 non-profits there, with over 2.5m affiliated members, as well as 5,437 NGOs employing around 50,000 paid staff and 700,000 volunteers. Estimates also indicate that there were around 10,000 NGOs in Mexico. According to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) funding from ‘northern’ NGOs (those based in rich countries) to ‘southern’ NGOs (those in the developing world) rose from around US$1bn in 1970 to US$7.2bn in 1990. If the trend continued, it is reasonable to assume funding flows must now be running at various tens of billions of US dollars.

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