An Australian Non-Governmental Organisation, Plan International Australia performed an audit of public perception of the famine in East Africa and the findings were shocking. The audit exposed widespread ignorance towards Africa as a continent and the context of the disasters the continent is faced with. The following are some of the findings from the audit.
Overpopulation and/or lack of birth control is to blame for famine
One Australian social media user commented, “Africa made its own problems. Quit having ten kids. Famine is nature’s way of saying there are too many people. Stop reproducing.” At the time of the audit, twenty-three people showed their agreement by liking the comment though it is blatantly ignorant. An even harsher contribution was made by another user who said, “Send them a box of condoms instead of any food. They only know how to breed nonstop and then beg for food.” These contributions are simply inaccurate and lazily constructed. Plan asserts in its report that the crisis in East Africa is a result of a complex combination of civil war, economic collapse and internal displacement rather than overpopulation.
The money never arrives to those who need it, instead being absorbed by administration or taken by local forces
Other users showed great disappointment in the African systems. One said, “Keep sending money and rice to Sudan, it just ends up in the hands of warlords and strengthen their armies. The stupidity of western feel gooders are very much to blame for this.”
Famine is always happening in Africa
The audit also showed a widespread belief that Africans are perennially experiencing famine thus the indifference from previous donors. This is untrue because for the past six years, no famine was declared anywhere in the world. An extract from a comment on Facebook recorded in the Plan report reads, “Africans have been starving for generations. I think people have become immune to the all the starving black children ads on TV. It doesn’t matter how much money is thrown, all that happen is they live long enough to pop out 10 more kids each and create another starving generation of Africans.”
Africans deserve famine
This suggestion is rightfully called out by Plan International as dehumanising. To break it down, some Australians are basically saying East Africans deserve to die of hunger. The Audit report has one user’s comment in which he says, “When a useless country has so many useless people who have so many guns and use them carelessly, expect nothing but this kind of condition. The condition can go on for all I care. In the meantime the neighbouring countries should open their borders for the innocent civilians and leave the useless idiots to kill themselves.”
The problem with such reasoning as the report shows is that the people who instigate such conflict are never the ones who bear the brunt of the fire.
Africans are not helping themselves enough
“And why is it their own governments cant solve their own problems (sic),” one user rhetorically inquired. With the endorsement of 26 others who agreed, another said, “It is not about how much money is needed, it is about what the Nigerian government is willing to do to resolve this problem. It is about the Nigeria as a whole taking responsibility.”
These comments show total ignorance. Australia has in the past been given aid from other countries as have many other “first-world” countries. Pretending that only Africa needs aid is mental laziness. In addition, the affected people never just sit and wait for aid but they do all they can to survive. Appeals for aid to the international community are not made for fun but they are a last resort. No country is enthusiastic about being a basket case but disasters of this sort are known to strain even the most resilient of countries.
These are some of the views expressed on the Australian cyber-space. They expose the ignorance flying around about Africa and at times simply expose unkindness and hatred for Africa and its people. The United Nations’ drive to raise $4.4 billion was a failure and such attitudes as already discussed played a part in that failure. The famine has been described as the worst humanitarian crisis since the inception of the UN in 1945 and is expected to affect no less than 20 million people in four countries. The full Plan International audit report can be found here.