4 brothers film the multimillion $$ relief industry (promo video.) We’ve raised similar topics a number of times.
HT: Kruse Kronicle
BTW: This is my first attempt at a video embed. (It’s a holiday here, so the internet is actually working.)
UPDATE: Whenever I post something, my brain tends to work on it for the rest of the day (which I suppose is why I temporarily quit blogging seriously). Here are some other thoughts I had while I was hanging out with the kids yesterday.
- African poverty as a spectacle yet again? (Read What an African Woman Thinks: I went to a zoo and I saw a . . . ).
- Is dissing relief work becoming the latest Western fad? (Could it wind up being just as dangerous as throwing money blindly at African problems. Either way our main objective seems to be to feel better about ourselves. Aren’t most wealthy westerners just as happy ignoring the poor wherever they might be? )
- Could this be just another example of a white folks “making their news” on the backs of the poor Africans? (This really struck me when I went to http://www.whatarewedoinghere.net/ . Notice where most of the attention is on this site.) Note to self: Am I trying “make my news” (e.g. on this blog) by painting myself an “Africa expert” to my Western friends?
- Whose interests are being served?
- Need to suspend judgment till we see the full product.
More info from what are we doing here?
WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE? explores why the charity given to Africa over the last five decades has been largely ineffective and often harmful. The film tells the story of Brandon, Nicholas, Daniel and Tim Klein who travel across Africa in an attempt to understand one of the great problems of our time; the failure to end poverty.
In the film, the Klein family travel 15,000 miles via public transportation from Cairo to Cape Town. They cross war torn and famine-ridden regions where aid workers, politicians, and inspiring individuals tell about the incredibly complex and often misunderstood issues that affect hundreds of millions of people across the continent.
Daring to ask the questions no one else will, the filmmakers invite the world to rethink the fight against poverty in Africa. Could our good intentions be causing more harm than good? Have humanitarian interventions prolonged suffering? Who is actually benefiting from our good intentions? These questions and many more are addressed for the first time ever in this groundbreaking feature length film. If you ever wanted to know what happened to the $10 dollars you donated to charity last year, look no further. This film will change the way you look at charity in Africa forever.
. . . The United States of America has a long history of giving aid to African nations in various forms. A bulk of this aid has been given in the form of food aid from U.S. farmers and transported on U.S. carriers. We the undersigned believe that this strategy not only is ineffective in reducing hunger and poverty but is often harmful to African agriculture markets and should be changed.
We the Undersigned request that USAID food aid be delivered in the form of food purchased from within the recipient African country. If the country receiving the food aid is not able to produce the needed food, then food should be purchased from neighboring countries that have a food surplus. The costs of growing and transporting U.S. grain can be reallocated towards greater purchase of food in the recipient country or put toward other areas of development particularly those that strengthen local agriculture.
We believe that the age of allocating aid dollars towards a strategy that has proven to be ineffective is over. The time is now to promote real change in Africa and that means empowering and supporting African farmers and their markets through local purchase of food aid.
My Prejudgment: It looks like an important expose of the “Relief Industry”, which is often (usually?) a self-serving venture. It’s an important conversation; complexities are apparent to all who are genuinely involved.
It raises some important questions (from the teacher’s guide – pdf):
- Is foreign aid helping or hurting Africa? Should aid be increased or decreased?
- If aid should be decreased or stopped, what should the role of the US be in Africa and how should we respond to the millions of people living in poverty?
- If aid should be increased, how can we make sure that it isn’t wasted or doesn’t cause harm?
- What do you think should be done about poverty in Africa?
- If someone has good intentions and is trying to help, is it correct to criticize their efforts and say that they are hurting instead of helping?
- Would you ever give money or work for an NGO/charity fighting poverty in Africa? Why or why not?
- Do Africans need foreign aid?
- doesn’t the USA have the same level of poverty that Africa has? How is poverty in Africa different from poverty in USA? What does our government do to help people get out of poverty?
- www.globalissues.org – Global Issues has information on poverty and development around the world, including Africa. Facts, studies, statistics, articles on the root causes of poverty, food aid,corruption, foreign aid, and world hunger. Full of short articles that are easy to read.
- www.crisisgroup.org – International Crisis Group has up to date information and analysis on conflicts around the world. Some of the most in-depth information available, but is written at a slightly more advanced level.
- http://africaunchained.blogspot.com – Africa Unchained is a platform for analyzing and contributing to the issues and solutions surrounding Africa. The discussion focuses on the issues raised by George Ayittey’s latest book ‘Africa Unchained’.
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/default.stm – BBC Africa page – there is a lot of general information on individual African countries, good for basic background information.