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Doing Good, But Looking Bad? Two Humanitarian NGOs in the Eastern DRC
Unformatted Document Text:  49 th International Studies Association Annual Convention: Bridging Multiple Divides San Francisco, CA. Panel: Limits of IR Theory for Understanding Real NGOs: Burning Bridges? Wednesday, March 26, 2008 DOING GOOD, BUT LOOKING BAD? LOCAL PERCEPTIONS OF HUMANITARIAN NGOs IN THE EASTERN DRC Dennis Dijkzeul & Claude Iguma Wakenge 1 This is an incomplete draft that is not yet meant for publication. Please do not quote and contact

Authors: Dijkzeul, Dennis.
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49
th
International Studies Association Annual Convention:
Bridging Multiple Divides
San Francisco, CA.
Panel:
Limits of IR Theory for Understanding Real NGOs: Burning Bridges?
Wednesday,
March 26, 2008
DOING GOOD, BUT LOOKING BAD?
LOCAL PERCEPTIONS OF HUMANITARIAN NGOs IN THE
EASTERN DRC
Dennis Dijkzeul & Claude Iguma Wakenge
This is an incomplete draft that is not yet meant for publication. Please do not quote and
contact
for an updated version of this paper.
Abstract:
This article examines local perceptions of two international humanitarian
organisations, Malteser International and the International Rescue Committee,
in the eastern DRC. The self-perception of the two organisations differs at times
considerably from the perceptions by local population groups. This paper first
reviews the current status of studies of local perceptions of humanitarian action.
Then it discusses the local perceptions of both organisations, as well as the
origins of these perceptions, and it attempts to explain these perceptions from
the perspective of three types of groups: local recipient communities, local
authorities, and local staff members of the two organisations themselves. The
article ends with a discussion of the implications of this type of research for
humanitarian management and the study of local perceptions.
1.
Introduction
The commonplace observation that local perceptions of humanitarian action only receive
scant attention is increasingly incorrect. Over the last few years, various scholars have
produced considerable research on local perceptions. Even questionnaires to carry out such
research are now available on the web.
This article takes stock of the existing literature on
perceptions, analyzes its strengths and shortcomings and underlines the importance of this
type of research for humanitarian action. In fact, the local perceptions are frequently more
negative than outsiders expect.
Using the medical humanitarian work of Malteser International, a German NGO, and the
International Rescue Committee (IRC), a US NGO, in the eastern DRC as examples, this
article makes clear how and why local perceptions of humanitarian action come about and
1


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