Oxfam seem to believe that pictures of starving Africans are counterproductive to bringing to an end hunger on that continent. Which seems to be discounting the fact that we’re in a recession and don’t have as much cash in our pockets as well.


The negative portrayal of Africa in the eyes of the British public is undermining efforts to bring an end to hunger on the continent, Oxfam has said.
The aid agency said that three-fifths of people questioned said they have become desensitised to images depicting issues such as hunger, drought and disease.
Although nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents thought it was ultimately possible to bring an end to hunger across the continent, only one in five believed they could play an active role in this.
When asked to select what they thought were the three most pressing problems facing Africa over the next year, almost half (47%) of the more than 2,000 people surveyed by YouGov identified hunger.
Over-exposure to negative media and advertising portrayals of Africa and developing countries in other parts of the world was described as “depressing, manipulative and hopeless” by respondents.
And almost half (43%) said it made them feel that conditions for people living in the developing world would never improve.
In response, Oxfam is launching a new campaign to try to refocus public support for the cause.

Actually one of the most pressing reasons for the decline in people giving a damn about Africa is that most people know that the money they give in aid doesn’t actually reach the people who need it. Kleptocratic dictatorships siphon off aid by the thousands of pounds, corruption is endemic and simply giving food only seems to destroy the infrastructure and make people dependent on aid rather than seeking to find their own ways out of their problems.

There’s also the issue that Oxfam itself appears to be doing good for its top people by doing so called good…

Charity Chief executive Latest salary in £s (plus benefits but excluding pensions) Salary in £s for the previous year Pay rise (%) Income £m Amount in £s spent on chief exec’s pay for every £1,000 of income


Oxfam Barbara Stocking 75,000 75,000 0.0 189.0 0.40

£75,000 could buy an awful lot in aid now couldn’t it?

Oxfam are far from unique, though at the lower end of the scale, you can read up on just who is getting what on the Guardian site and it seems that our so called top charities are creaming off the money we pay in to keep their executives feather bedded at our expense.

So no, I don’t think that the constant pictures of starving Africans are counterproductive in and of themselves, I rather think that charities might need to look at what they pay themselves plus just how much in real aid as in not feeding the starving but helping them to feed themselves might just help.

As it is, I’m still the biggest fan of charity beginning at home…

15 comments for “Counterproductive

  1. December 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I know two people who are very personally involved in this issue in very different ways, and both opinions reach the same general conclusion.

    One is a lady in her fifties who is from a very poor country that receives much aid, and for many years she began to work in the aid sector of her own country, at the point of trying to make use of the aid, before recently moving to the UK, where she has married. She actively discourages everyone she talks to in the UK from contributing to any of the big aid organisations because she says, ‘It largely goes to fund arms purchases, support dictatorships and make the problems that cause a need for aid worse rather than better.”

    The other is a consultant who has spent a lot of time working in Africa at a high level in the organisations that make use of UK goverment aid. He would certainly not wish to be identified, but over a beer he has told me very frankly that, “The whole set up is an utter disgrace, treating the genuine young and idealistic volunteers who go out there, including young doctors, like absolute shit, while raking in big salaries for themselves, and for consultants like me, because they couldn’t survive back in the private sector at home.”

  2. Stonyground
    December 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    “As it is, I’m still the biggest fan of charity beginning at home…”

    As you used three dots at the end of this quote, I suspect that you know that it is incomplete and are not misquoting due to ignorance as many do. I believe that it was Thomas Fuller who said “Charity begins at home but should not end there” meaning the precise opposite of what those who misquote him think that he said.

    Regarding Africa. I can’t help but think that foreign aid is perpetuating the proplems there. If a corrupt dictator can live the life of Riley on foreign aid, he has no need to build any kind of viable economy in his country. I saw an ad for a charity featuring people living in unbelievably crude huts made out of sticks. They boasted that they had been involved in their relief work for sixty years. The thought that imediately entered my head was that in sixty years they appeared to have acheived nothing, should I send some money to enable them to acheive nothing for another sixty years?

    Meanwhile, countries in the Far East seem to have grown from primitive societies to modern economies without receiving any foreign aid at all.

    • Greg Tingey
      December 27, 2012 at 8:15 am

      Both South Korea & Singapore recieved huge amounts of foreign “aid”, except it wasn’t called that, was it?

    • December 27, 2012 at 10:30 am

      Actually I was alluding to my personal belief often stated on this site that charity should begin at home and end there, but that’s my personal preference. If people want to give to the likes of foreign aid charities that’s their choice but they ought to realise just what they are funding and it isn’t starving masses in many cases.

      • cuffleyburgers
        December 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm

        I think voluntary aid to try to help people is a moral imperative, and that the test of any society is how it treats the less fortunate (and less able).

        Having said that, state aid is money wasted and an awful lot of the voluntary contributions people make is also wasted, and much of it is counterproductive. And the more tax payers money that is channeled to Oxfam etc the more counter productive they are. The only one I respect is M. S. F. (odd considering they are French…)

        THe real way to help these people is to open up free trade, especially, but not only, in agricultural products.

        THe wonderful (not) CAP is probably responsible for the deaths of millions of people over the course of its what, 50 years of existence. A “better” record than Stalin or Chairman miao, and for much the same reasons.

  3. December 26, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    I know a lady born in a very poor aid-receiving land who worked there trying to use aid funds, and now, living in UK, she encourages everyone NOT to give to the big aid organisations as she says they fund weapons, corruption and sustain dictatorships much more than helping the people. And I also know a chap who worked as a highly paid consultant in Africa overseeing the use of UK governmental aid, and he told me that the aid sustains big salaries and nice lifestyles for many managerial-type people from the UK who would struggle to survive in the private sector at home, while these same people treat the genuine volunteers like “absolute shit”. It is a very murky business (like most things, sadly).

  4. December 26, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Dave Allison, Enemy of the State,
    Sovereign Freeman in Lawful Rebellion,
    Declared War on Highland Council

    See website for details.

  5. December 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    £75 000? I never realized that. Right, I’ll find a different charity.

  6. Mudplugger
    December 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    As they always say of international aid and charities, it’s all about the poor folk in rich countries handing over money to the rich folk in poor countries.
    Some things never change.

  7. Voice of Reason
    December 26, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    75 thousand a year is very low, compared with most of the big charities that I read about.

  8. Twenty_Rothmans
    December 26, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    It’s rather cute that Oxfam has been dominating the top 3″ of the Telegraph website all day. “We can make it go”

    For the last 40 years, I have been fed the story that Africa can be thrown money to get it out of its poverty. Unwittingly, and unwillingly,I have contributed to this 911 scam.

    Feed pigeons, get more pigeons.

  9. Mike
    December 26, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    I think your data for Oxfam are 10 years out of date. I think you may find that the top 10 charities pay their CEOs more than the salary that is paid to the Prime Minister of the UK.

    • December 27, 2012 at 10:35 am

      You are right, the chief executive of Oxfam recently given an OBE gets £109,100, many other charities get more. This is what people paying into these charities miss.

  10. December 27, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Rather than concentrate in the pay of the CEO we should be concentrating on the waste within the charity. The CEO is only one person, but there wil be umpteen managers expanding their empires and wasteful decisions which have no commercial sense and changing the scope of their remit to include areas which were never invisaged to be part of the charities point. That’s where charities waste money.

  11. Rossa
    December 28, 2012 at 8:18 am

    “…but helping them to feed themselves might just help.”

    If they did that there would be no need for these charities like Oxfam to exist at all. That is why poverty and hunger will never be eradicated. It’s like asking a turkey to vote for Christmas.

    All aid is to keep the status quo. As Stonyground says after 60 years of relief work that charity still hadn’t shown any signs of improving conditions for the people featuring in their ads.

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