Transfering some of my wordier posts to the “Articles and Travel Writing” section- this one about the use of NGO logos and identity in the field.
International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), or aid agencies, get a lot of [metaphorical] flak for what is perceived as self-promotion through judicious use of their logos. They get stamped like marketing badges on the products we hand out until, in a relief camp, they appear as a cacophany of colour and styles. Tarpaulins from CARE stamped with their circle of yellow and brown hands. Water tanks from Oxfam with their green loop. Jerrycans from World Vision with their orange triangle. Tents stamped with the blue letters UNHCR. Outside a Save the Children Play-Safe Area, a large signboard displays the typology of a child reaching up for an embrace ringed in red, while across the muddy pathway from an MSF therapeutic feeding clinic sits beneath a fluttering flag with their red scrawl on a white background.
The signage doesn’t stop there. Detractors of the international aid industry point to the plethora of badges slapped onto the fleets of white Toyota Land Cruisers that ply the unsealed roads of previously unheard-of third-world towns turned relief headquarters, such as Darfur’s Nyala, DRC’s Goma and Sri Lanka’s Vavuniya. One government recently slammed INGOs [however myopically] for their work in a conflict-riddled portion of their country, claiming that their activities amounted to little more than supporting terrorists and putting up large signboards with their names on. Photos to our donors of the work we do invariably try and promote our particular flavour of assistance with a carefully framed banner or vested aid worker brandishing the organization’s colours.