Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are necessary for social and economic growth. They are indispensable in nations with minimal resources or poor government policies. Besides, they offer and promote effective healthcare for the most susceptible population categories and fill gaps left by the government. A critical analysis of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) will help bring out key responsibilities that the NGOs undertake to ensure environmental/climate justice and food sovereignty are achieved in Nigeria, South Sudan, and Africa as a whole. Environmental and climate justice necessitate vibrant policies on the climate crisis and highlight the need for action within the communities negatively impacted by the changing climate. Therefore, individuals can fight the problem by ensuring that they reduce global warming and its consequences on human well-being. It can be done through the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. The majority of influence from organizations such as HOMEF is essentially local. When considering the amount of carbon dioxide that can be removed from the atmosphere, it is important to consider ethical issues since the universal climate policy on carbon dioxide removal will have implications at the local and community level (Batres et al., 2021). By giving attention to the level of development in most African nations, NGOs are well-positioned to have a strong influence on corporate environmental performance instead of other players in the sector. These institutions are usually regarded as significant stakeholders, representatives of crucial shareholder groups, and highly trusted organizations. NGOs play numerous roles in the Republic of Nigeria.

Even though the term NGO encompasses a wide category of institutions, they have become prominent in the area of global growth. The  World Bank defines NGOs as private institutions that resolve issues to get rid of suffering, encourage the interests of the vulnerable, safeguard the environment, and offer basic social amenities (Shah, 2005). On the contrary, government-sponsored healthcare programs imply every health benefits program subsidized by the national government, such as those in the insurance industry, to ensure that individuals obtain health care services at affordable costs (Tang et al., 2004). Public health organizations must be responsible for the welfare of the whole population, ensure its safety, and safeguard it from the spread of infectious diseases and environmental hazards. Many NGOs focus on reinforcing global health issues in several low- and middle-income countries like Nigeria. Consequently, their core purposes are to deliver health services, offer capacity building, and influence policy, with each function being linked to various responsibilities. However, NGOs cannot maintain their work while operating independently (Biermann et al., 2016). For their core purposes to be realized, their operations should be synergistic and harmonizing with public services.

The Health of Mother Earth Foundation: Overview

Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) is an environmental institution established in the year 2011. Its sole purpose is to advocate for environmental/climate justice and food sovereignty in the Republic of Nigeria, South Sudan, and Africa as a whole (Health of Mother Earth Foundation [HOMEF], 2018). HOMEF’s objective is guided by principles related to the significance of safeguarding the rights of the planet, consolidating community voices in objection against oppression and pollution in their surrounding, and pursuing justice in individuals’ involvement with the environment and nature’s cycles at policy, corporate, and personal levels. Since its establishment, HOMEF has concentrated its mandate in three crucial areas: hunger politics, fossil politics, and Ikike, a knowledge space containing the sustainability academy, school of ecology, and community dialogues.

Financial Health of the Organization

In the 2013 financial year, HOMEF received a total revenue, grants, and other support amounting to 16.6 million Naira. In that year, the organization had a total expense of 15.8 million Naira and a net asset at the end of the year, amounting to 877,882 Naira. 65% of the total revenue was spent on the sustainability academy. In the fiscal year 2014, there was a rise in total revenues and other support amounting to 19.5 million Naira and a net asset at the end of the year standing at 2.1 million Naira. In 2015, the revenues and additional support amounted to 21.5 million Naira. It rose to 35.3 million in 2016. The total expenses of the organization in the year 2017 and 2018 was 73.08 and 61.6 million. The change indicated a drop in revenues. In 2019, the total income was 135.77 million, while the organization spent 108.88 million on its projects and other administrative issues. The total income for the 2020 financial year was 131.14 million, while the organization spent 119.38 million on its administration and projects. The decrease in revenue can be attributed to the effects of the global pandemic.

HOMEF has a considerable presence in Nigeria. The NGO has spread its roots across the continent to nations such as South Sudan to examine the origins of the manipulation of resources, individuals, and countries. The organization selects stakeholders to join its initiative based on the capability to influence others, the value within hierarchies and crucial areas or participation, the project’s needs, and the relative importance of each stakeholder to other engaged parties in the project. Since its establishment, HOMEF has been identifying the stakeholders for its projects, including potential critics and supporters, and determining potential difficulties to the project execution. Hence, the organization groups stakeholders based on the extent of their impact, what is significant to them, and what they can bring onboard.

Advantages of Public Health NGOs over Government-Sponsored Programs

The majority of NGOs around the world are politically independent and monetary self-sufficient. Consequently, they serve the public interest and are supposed to be non-profit-making entities. Unlike government-sponsored programs, public health NGOs quickly adapt to local environment circumstances and offer personalized aid, making it probable to examine new procedures in a preferred manner. The majority of government-sponsored programs often lack the urgency required to mitigate serious issues that affect the public. Lack of necessity is often promoted by the insufficient innovation to establish the evidence base for action, ineffective performance administration, and the lack of political commitment to acquire resources and support for efficient action (Frieden, 2014). On the other hand, NGOs have the flexibility to take rapid action because they are not hindered by administrative red tape. In addition, they are better positioned to mobilize a larger population for swift action when public health issues arise (Banks et al., 2015). The opportunity for NGOs to network globally and rally for particular courses has significantly reinforced the thrust of their movements, generating some global public opinion. It implies that people at the local level can efficiently communicate with the highest level of authority through an NGO. Unlike government-sponsored programs, NGOs enjoy a certain level of trust and can quickly raise donations to facilitate their development goals.

Comparison in terms of how Funds are Sought and Obtained

Both NGOs and government-sponsored programs require financial stability for sustainability. Nonetheless, the channels followed in obtaining these funds are not similar for these organizations. Usually, government-sponsored programs are serviced using taxpayers’ money, and therefore, they entirely rely on the government for support. On the contrary, NGOs sought and obtain funding from a wide variety of sources. The sources are membership dues, private donations, sale of goods and services, grants from other non-profit entities, institutional funds, foreign aids, and awards and prizes (Mikołajczak, 2018). Like government-sponsored programs, NGOs such as HOMEF obtain assistance from the government for specific projects that meet predefined conditions (HOMEF, 2018).  Government-sponsored programs distribute funds by subsidizing public health services to ensure that citizens acquire those services at affordable rates. It is the case with public health insurance and other programs designed to conserve the environment (WHO, 2021). On the other hand, NGOs are often established to alleviate specific global issues affecting certain populations. Consequently, the funds obtained from donors and grants often facilitate the applied projects. For instance, HOMEF distributes funds to facilitate the realization of fossil politics, hunger politics, and Ikike (HOMEF, 2018). The processes of requesting assistance are similar for both NGOs and government-sponsored programs. An inquiry letter, a complete proposal, program budget have to be submitted (Kanji, 2015). After reviewing the submission, the Board of Directors or grants committee approves the bid.

Challenges facing Public Health NGOs

The majority of NGOs, unlike government-sponsored programs, grapple with the lack of funds. Financial resources are needed to facilitate the projects and the follow-up of projects after completion (Amiri & Pagheh, 2019). Therefore, lack of funds and capacity implies that the projects initiated by some of these organizations are unsustainable. In addition, the absence of networking has put an end to several NGOs. The reason is that some public health NGOs consider that collaboration with other NGOs and non-profits will lead to higher competition based on grants application. The lack of maintenance, especially after these NGOs have achieved some goals, is always a worry. Unlike government-sponsored programs with capacities to make follow-ups, some NGOs may not find it easy to maintain their progress.

NGOs gather and generate enormous quantities of possibly sufficient data to meet the criteria of choosing to get involved in a health issue. Secondary evaluation of NGO data presents a significant but broadly unrealized prospect to offer new research understandings in crucial areas such as health policy and programs assessment. For instance, making use of the WHO health system building blocks framework, the majority of reviews (55%; n=86/156) aimed at enhancing health through research on service delivery. Additionally, NGOs had no specified engagement in the recording or financing of 67% of the reviews (n=105) (Masefield et al., 2020). The sufficiency of data could facilitate pertinent and prompt research in program evaluation and health policy and sponsorship to enhance health and lower health disparities, particularly in relegated groups and developing nations. For HOMEF to get involved in environmental and climate justice across the African continent, the organization was alarmed by the magnitude and severity of the issue, the need among susceptible populations, and the community’s ability and readiness to eradicate the problem.

Practicum Research and Interviewing Experience

The practicum research and interviewing experience provided an opportunity to explore the assumptions concerning public health organizations and delivery. I established powerful associations with community members by helping individuals overcome cultural and systematic challenges toward environmental safety precautions. My practicum also enabled me to enhance my professional abilities which I find useful in mitigating environmental issues that might challenge our global health status. Even so, I was surprised that the majority of individuals were not aware of the health issues that might result from environmental degradation as well as the role of NGOs in mitigating such risks. Additionally, several people also lacked knowledge on how to submit proposals to acquire financial assistance to enable them to tackle health issues that might be contributed by environmental dilapidation. I used up about 20 hours gathering information for this project. The major people i interviewed are Dr. David King (CEO) of HOMEF and secetary, mrs. Tina James. They gave me insight into operations of NGO.

Conclusion

NGOs play a critical role in ensuring that social and economic growth is attained, especially in developing nations. In public health, NGOs have for quite some time provided and encouraged efficient healthcare for the most susceptible groups in society. HOMEF has played a vital role in environmental conservation and climate justice in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. However, the challenges of funding might cripple the progress of such organizations since money is needed to facilitate the maintenance of the projects they undertake. The practicum research and interviewing experience was an eye opener to situations that ought to be improved concerning public health issues.