Africa image harming aid effort, says charity Oxfam
- 26 December 2012
- From the section UK
A negative image of Africa in the UK is harming efforts to raise food aid in the continent, charity Oxfam has said.
It found that three out of four people had become desensitised to images showing hunger, drought and disease.
Three-quarters thought it was possible to end hunger in Africa, but just one in five believed they could play an active role in achieving it.
Of the more than 2,000 people surveyed, almost half suggested hunger as the biggest problem facing Africa.
Respondents to the survey said over-exposure to negative media and advertising portrayals of Africa and developing countries in other parts of the world was "depressing, manipulative and hopeless".
'Diversity and complexity'
Oxfam chief executive Dame Barbara Stocking said: "Oxfam has led the way in drawing attention to the plight of Africa's most vulnerable people and we aren't trying to gloss over the problems that still beset so many of them, particularly levels of malnutrition that remain stubbornly high.
"But we've come a long way since the 1980s and Band Aid's Do They Know it's Christmas? We need to shrug off the old stereotypes and celebrate the continent's diversity and complexity, which is what we are attempting with this campaign.
"The relentless focus on ongoing problems at the expense of a more nuanced portrait of the continent, is obscuring the progress that is being made towards a more secure and prosperous future.
"If we want people to help fight hunger we have to give them grounds for hope by showing the potential of countries across Africa - it's a natural instinct to turn away from suffering when you feel you can do nothing to alleviate it."
And when speaking to the BBC, Dame Stocking said a negative image of Africa was "not the truth" about that continent.
"Of course, there are floods, droughts, and there is conflict, but that is not in every country at all. And there are quite a number of countries now in Africa that are really doing very well.
"We want to make sure people have a really better balanced picture of what's happening in Africa. Of course we have to show what the reality is in the situations in those countries.
"But we also need to show the other places where things are actually changing, where things are different."
In a separate recent Oxfam poll, more than half of people immediately mentioned hunger, famine or poverty when speaking about Africa.