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ENCOUNTERING THE GODS: A Case Study Analysis of Faith-Based Organizations Providing Humanitarian Aid to Internally Displaced Persons in Jos, Nigeria, and to the Karen in Myanmar
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]


The majority of persons in the world are religious.  Thus for many persons, religion informs most or all of daily life.  This locus of religious identity often becomes elevated in the case of internally displaced persons.  Since the international community began use of this categorization late in the past century, the number of identified internally displaced persons and the amount of humanitarian aid provided to them has been an area of continued growth.  Faith-based nongovernmental organizations deliver much of this humanitarian aid to internally displaced persons, especially inside nations that are resistant to outside incursions by international entities.  Thus faith-based organizations are commonly found delivering humanitarian aid to faith-oriented people groups.


This paper explores the intersection of faith-based nongovernmental organizations delivering aid to faith-oriented people groups in two politically challenged nations.  Findings from the research demonstrates that, as one might suspect, organizations that accord a viable space to religion, such as faith-based nongovernmental organizations, have special inroads in working with faith-oriented internally displaced persons.  Part of the reason for salubrious outcomes is the very fact that faith-based nongovernmental organizations derive from a religious heritage and permit utilization of religious dialogue in their dealings with internally displaced persons.  Yet the literature also documents a labyrinth of controversial and dubious outcomes inviting criticism.  Generalizations are difficult, however, as faith-based nongovernmental organizations are astoundingly diverse, displaying an incredible spectrum of professionalism and degree of religiosity, often more different from each other as they are different from secular organizations.


A case study comparison from a review of English language literature is utilized to enlighten the addled nature of the mechanisms at play when faith-based organizations work with internally displaced persons.  Analysis of the research evidence reveals that this is a complex affair defying simplistic answers.  In both Jos, Nigeria, and with the Karen in Myanmar, the role of religion is found to be a crucial element in the delivery of humanitarian aid to internally displaced persons.  But in both settings religion is also invariably bundled together with ethnicity, regionalism, political agendas, and a long local history.  Evidence suggests a conflicted response to criticisms of faith-based organizations.  Furthermore, the research findings suggest that, since religion is bundled into a complex combination with emotionally charged social components, all of which impact delivery in humanitarian projects, much further research into this topic is merited. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 84 p.
Keyword [en]
faith-based organization, jos, karen
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-256683OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-256683DiVA: diva2:826319
Subject / course
International Humanitarian Action
Educational program
Master Programme in International Humanitarian Action
Available from: 2015-07-02 Created: 2015-06-25 Last updated: 2015-07-02Bibliographically approved

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Harsdorf, David
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