Foreign aid and charity are often well-intentioned but just as often have no positive effects on the target population for a variety of reasons. Worse yet, aid may make people’s situation worse with one of the most clear and painful examples being food aid (if you don’t believe this statement, read up on what sending American rice to Haiti has done to its rice economy over the past several years).
The latest case of a well-intentioned but inappropriate charity idea involves a plan to send a million t-shirts to Africa. Somehow this plan caught the attention of bloggers around the world, many of whom trounced it. Happily, the guy with the idea is listening and plans to go back to the drawing board.
It sounds to me like the blogosphere has proved itself as a highly effective teaching medium. In short order, bloggers, including Professor Bill Easterly of NYU, opened the eyes of at least one member of the public, prompting him to think outside his own world and learn about people’s real needs and interests in order to come up with a culturally appropriate and more effective plan for giving.
Good work bloggers!
Image, “DSCF8068” from flickr user bigguybigcity, licensed with Creative Commons.