In the News: On Charity Advertising

posted by Carrie Reiling

golden-radiator-award-2013In an article for Pambazuka, “All that glitters is not gold,” Daniel Bendix critically examines the recent winners of the Golden Radiator Award and Rusty Radiator Award, given by the Norwegian Students and Academics International Assistance Fund for charity advertising. He notes that the awards do not seem to give enough consideration to “the political implications of advertisements and awareness of the historical–political context in which the work of the organizations promoting themselves with the clips are situated.” While he praises these awards for using satire to highlight stereotypes of the global South, he does push against them, noting that they “perpetuate the classical development discourse,” thus eliding the inequalities inherent in aid, as well as the political constructions that created the conditions where aid is seen as necessary.

In the News: Why Volunteer Abroad?

posted by Tanya Schwarz

A recent Op-Doc, titled “An African’s Message for America,” directed by Cassandra Herrman for The New York Times, follows Boniface Mwangi, a Kenyan activist and photojournalist, as he engages with American college students over the issues of volunteerism and humanitarianism abroad. He encourages these young people to work towards the betterment of their own communities, instead of going elsewhere to help “others” in need. We at the CIHA Blog agree that the issue of “going abroad” to “save” others is problematic and needs to be addressed. Why is it that “saving Africa” is so exotic for people? Why are people in Africa (and elsewhere) often portrayed as “the deserving poor,” while those in need in the U.S. are often labeled “welfare queens”?

In the News: Aid for Trade

TripartiteLogo_630posted by Bangirana Albert and Cilas Kemedjio

Jim Redden and Catherine Grant Makokera, in the article “Aid for Trade Vital for Boosting Regional Integration and Development,” discuss the viability of a Tripartite Free Trade Area (T-FTA) that will bring together the three existing regional groupings in Southern and Eastern Africa – the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Community for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) towards a continent-wide free trade area. They say,

“If well harnessed, aid for trade can provide a significant boost to progress on regional integration and increased trade in Africa.”

We at the CIHA Blog would like to highlight the uncritical way this article addresses the aid for trade business project. We argue that such trade is not by itself a response to African problems but is first and foremost a way for local and global capitalist networks of corporations to increase their dividends. Additionally, we question how the “common good” factor in this equation is always assumed, but never articulated. In short, the problem, in Africa, as elsewhere, is not about productivity. It is about “What to do with this productivity?” or where the common fits in this agenda.

In the News: The World Food Programme and Humanitarian Funding

photo credit: UNAMID Photo via photopin cc

photo credit: UNAMID Photo via photopin cc

posted by Tanya Schwarz

In a her article, “Time for a re-think on humanitarian funding?,” (written for IRIN–Integrated Regional Information Networks) Louise Redvers reports on the inadequacies in the World Food Programme’s current funding system. She notes that the WFP (and other UN agencies) are overstretched as they face four Level Three Emergencies as well as the Ebola crisis. However, as Redvers points out, these current crises only highlight the ongoing funding problems that the WFP and other aid organizations are tackling, which stem from a system that is largely reactionary–resulting in short-term funding cycles–and dependent on voluntary donations.

In the News: Humanitarian-“ism”

posted by Bangirana Albert Billy

“The concept which is supposed to transcend ideology obscures the role of the west in creating disasters in the first place.” – Jeremy Seabrook

Jeremy Seabrook, in the article “The doctrine of ‘humanitarianism’ is not as benign as you think,”–like Cilas Kemedjio in an earlier 2009 piece for the CIHA Blog–expounds upon the concept of humanitarianism in its philosophical abstraction, history and practice. He critiques the ideological configuration of humanitarian-ism in contemporary praxis–offering valuable analytical incites in understanding the ‘ism’ within the controversial humanitarian discourse.