French charity's plan to rescue Darfur 'orphans' may be worst aid idea ever

From Aid | The Guardian Wed Dec 5 2012, 13:18:47

Pair behind Zoe's Ark mission to smuggle Sudanese children to France refuse to attend trial and fail to pay damages

Over the years, there have been more than a few occasions when well-intentioned do-gooders from the western world have come to Africa to make a difference - and completely cocked it up. Think of Jason Russell and the Kony 2012 campaign. Sure, YouTube loved it, but its popularity came at the expense of entrenching negative stereotypes and advocating very dangerous, simplistic solutions. Eventually, the campaign degenerated into farce. Kony wasn't caught, but Russell was - stark naked and allegedly masturbating in public, an incident from which Kony 2012 never recovered.

Or take Jason Sadler, another starry-eyed American and the unfortunate brain behind the "million T-shirts for Africa" idea. He had never been to Africa but he wanted to help, so he came up with this scheme of getting people to donate their second hand T-shirts and shipping them over. A few problems, as outlined by pretty much everyone who knew anything about Africa: believe it or not, just about all Africans, even the really poor ones, already have a T-shirt. In fact, lots of Africans rely on producing or selling T-shirts to make money, so an influx of free shirts would seriously damage their business model. And who's going to pay for the shirts to be transported and distributed, money that would be far better spent on aid that actually works? In the end, before it caused any real damage, a humbled Sadler was forced to abandon his idea.

My personal favourite terrible international aid idea comes courtesy of [view whole blog post ]

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