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Orientation is one means of classifying nongovernmental organizations or NGOs. Those in the service orientation may offer assistance by delivering food and clean water to those in need. Some organizations focus on education, family planning, or health care. There are also services that focus on making infrastructure improvements.
Food delivery programs are perhaps one of the most widely recognized types of NGO services. These programs tend to differ based on their target groups. Some, for example, may offer meals to school children in impoverished areas, while others may aim to support positive nutritional habits to poor communities. An NGO may have the goal of providing food to pregnant women and nursing mothers. It is also popular for these organizations to help obtain and deliver food to victims of natural disasters.
As there are many places where people have limited or no access to clean water, delivering these supplies is another category of NGO services. This may also be seen following a disaster or when individuals are in temporary camp settlements. Delivery of clean water, however, tends to only be sustainable for a certain period of time. In instances where a group is stable but needs clean water, NGO services often focus on projects such as installing wells and digging boreholes.
Education is another of the more common NGO services. Again, organizations tend to have target groups that they aim to assist. This may include educating young girls in places where they are generally denied education. The same focus may be placed on women in places where female literacy rates are extremely low. Some NGOs focus on adult education in general or the development of certain types of skills.
Though sometimes considered controversial, family planning services are offered by NGOs. This may involve programs that teach the benefits of using condoms and that distribute them. It may also involve educating women about birth control and making it available at little or no cost.
NGO services in the health care category can take on many forms. Some organizations may focus on treating and preventing particular illnesses such as malaria or HIV. Others establish general medical services in impoverished or disaster-stricken areas. Some NGOs even specialize in the delivery of mental health care, which can be particularly important in places where people have lived through highly traumatic experiences, such as war or ethnic cleansing.
Sometimes, the NGO services are temporary. In many cases, however, there are efforts that are very long term or permanent and, therefore, aim to combine infrastructural improvements with professional assistance. For example, some organizations build hospitals and clinics and then staff them. Other NGOs may focus on building community centers and child care facilities and offering qualified staff to ensure these facilities meet their goals.