The Go Abroad fund, coupled with a Robertson-Ness Travel scholarship, enabled me to travel to Delhi, India in June 2018 and visit Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Across 12 days, I was able to visit eight NGOs as part of my MSc Business Analytics dissertation: “The Detection and Location Estimation of Disasters Using Twitter and the Identification of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) Using Crowdsourcing”.
India was selected as it is the third most affected country in the world by disasters in the last decade, when measured by economic impact and the number of fatalities. The region Uttar Pradesh, which Delhi is located in, is the most disaster-hit region of India. The first and second most affected countries are Haiti and China, respectively. Since Haiti was largely affected by one disaster in 2010 and disasters in China are spread over too large a geographic area to visit in one trip, Delhi, India was selected.
By visiting the NGOs, which covered sectors such as disaster relief, child protection, poverty alleviation and sanitation, I was able to gain hands-on knowledge of some of the major problems the NGOs contend with. A particular focus are the challenges faced when receiving financial donations and attempting to identify ways international donations could be received more easily. Additionally, the trip enabled me to experience first-hand the problem of NGO credibility in India. In particular, NGOs that are legally registered but their activity does not match their alleged purpose and objectives. Also, by visiting NGOs in person, I was able to establish a rapport with NGO directors and volunteers, which in turn led to candid conversations and valuable qualitative information being obtained.
From a practical perspective, the on-the-ground survey led to legislative problems being outlined that have helped create a road map for developing the NGO identification portal in the future. For example, the administrative burdens surrounding international donations, compared to domestic donations, has led to donation aggregation being proposed on the portal. From a personal perspective, the trip was culturally enriching. It allowed me to experience a completely different culture and meet passionate volunteers who are seeking to provide support to vulnerable communities in times of need. Below is a photo of children learning in a learning centre provided by an NGO, which provides education to vulnerable communities. The centre is located in the shadows of a business district in southern Delhi:
Before visiting Delhi, I was concerned that I was unprepared for the potentially extreme temperatures and not obtaining meaningful information from the NGOs visited. As a result of carefully planning meeting times and transportation, the extreme heat was avoided. As for meaningful information, a pre-prepared survey was sent in advance, which enabled each NGO to prepare answers and the meetings to understand their answers further.
Lastly, I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra on a free day. I think I managed to not look like I’m overheating for less than a second!