Why Poverty? Give Us The Money.

Yesterday I watched Give Us The Money, one of a series of 8 documentaries about poverty, wealth and inequality.

GIVE US THE MONEY: How do you change the world?
From Live Aid to Make Poverty History, celebrities have become activists against poverty. Bob Geldof and Bono have been the most prominent voices advocating on behalf of the poor. But have their concerts and campaigns really lifted millions out of poverty? Geldof, Bono and Bill Gates speak candidly about how to lobby effectively and how to play to politicians’ weaknesses for glitz and popularity.

Geldof and Bono tend to polarise views and I often find myself becoming annoyed when I hear or read one of the Development or African elite knocking them. In this documentary I think they show a lot of self-awareness about the complexities of aid and development and the limitations of their own efforts. We should praise them for what they helped to achieve and accept that celeb led aid and advocacy is part of answer.

A leading economist and self-declared “critic of nonsense in fighting global poverty” referring to fact that the 1984 “Do they know it’s Christmas” hit was still being played, called them “idiots”; that’s not right.

I don’t think that aid is the complete answer to the complex issue of poverty in the developing world, nor is ‘more aid’.

I think it is right and proper that each of us should feel the need to help, that wanting to make a difference is not wrong. Good intentions are still good even if sometimes the outcomes are not fully those that we intend.

How, or indeed if, aid should be used to help in development requires that we consider all aspects with an open mind and be willing to listen to and learn from one another. Let us be more accepting of one another’s best intentions, even if we consider these to be flawed. For those of us wanting to help, let us first consider the evidence of what works and learn from the mistakes that others may have made.

I think this is worth watching and I hope, like me, you find it thought-provoking.

Perhaps when you have watched it you could let me know what you think:

  1. Is Aid good; never, always, just some of the time?
  2. Should Celebs be involved in Aid advocacy or in doing so do they spoil it?
  3. Is it okay to want to help, to want to make a difference, or should we white Westerns stay out of it?

About Kevin Duffy

Interim Management and Consulting - Global Healthcare Development. Kevin has over ten years of senior management experience in the delivery of healthcare services in Africa and South Asia. His current focus is on the strategic development of policy, guidance, and tools to help healthcare organisations achieve sustainable impact – balancing the need to become financially sustainable, with the mission of ensuring equitable access to affordable healthcare services.
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