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Social Issues
Oxfam Has A New Campaign To End Hunger In Africa: Is It Refreshing Or Misguided?
January 13, 2013
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It seems like the world has been talking about ending world hunger for generations. And yet, here we are in 2013 and 870 million people in the world are undernourished.

That means one in eight people don't get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life.

That's where charities and aid organizations come in - asking you to donate money to help. It's important, noble work but it's also a challenge.

To be blunt, some people get tired of ad after ad about poverty and hungry children. Others wonder if their money really goes to those who need it.

It sounds cold, but it's true. And aid organizations know it, so they're always looking for new and creative ways to grab your attention.

This year, Oxfam has a new campaign to try change people's views of Africa while still reducing the number of people who go hungry.

Before launching the campaign, Oxfam surveyed 2,000 people across Britain - asking them what they think of when they think of Africa.

More than half said "hunger", "poverty" and "famine". Only a small percentage said growth, business, education, or landscapes.

So, Oxfam decided to come up with something to change that negative perception.

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Nick Futcher, Oxfam acting communications director, wrote a piece about the campaign for The Guardian.

In it, he writes "We put arrestingly beautiful images of Africa across newspapers, outdoor and digital media."

"The sweeping landscapes and waterfalls provoked a reaction, they prompted debate, they got people talking about hunger in Africa. The images say more than Africa is a stunning continent."

Futcher went on to say "The aim of the adverts is not to give a complete and holistic picture of the continent - that would be impossible. We hoped the viewer would question what they thought they knew about Africa and find out more."

You can read his full piece here.

The Guardian also has a piece from a critic of the campaign, Tolu Ogunlesi - a journalist, author and poet who lives in Nigeria.

Ogunlesi says the campaign "left me a tad puzzled. A w-t-f puzzlement. As in: is Oxfam for real?" He goes on to note that Oxfam has helped reinforce those same perceptions of hunger and poverty.

"Am I alone in thinking Oxfam's lamentations suggest a British public that is at the mercy of what they are fed," he writes. "Helpless Brits who somehow cannot - despite all their efforts - rise beyond the bombardment of pity-evoking images of Africa."

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Let's make Kenya famous for plentiful gardens, not food shortages.

He goes on: "I seriously doubt that it is in Africa's interest for Brits to change their perception of Africa. Instead I think it is totally in Britain's interests to change its perceptions of Africa. That problem, is Britain's, and no one else's. If the Brits insist on seeing Africa primarily through the lens of philanthropic intervention, good for them."

Ogunlesi adds "It's important that the Oxfams of this world do not allow themselves to get overly caught up in the myth of their impact. In the larger scheme of things, perhaps they've been over-estimating their messianic abilities."

You can read his full piece here.

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