Reflections of New Minnesotans: East Africa and the politics of international giving


I have been torn on what charities to support with the famine in East Africa. I am wary of supporting the aid culture, but I also understand that this is a crisis that needs the world’s urgent financial response. As it turns out, a few friends were also looking to identify effective ways to contribute to the drought/famine crisis. You can read more about the East Africa Relief project here, but for now listen as we discuss smart giving, poverty porn, the politics of international aid and climate change.

Quotes from the show:

There is a serious sustainability question. People are helping, but how they help is an important conversation to have because there are certain aid models that really damage the communities in question and have long-term ramifications that again, create cyclical cycles of dependency that isn’t very solutions-oriented. – Ramla Bile

There’s been several reports in various media outlets that the Ethiopian government has been withholding aid from the Ogaden area of Ethiopia, which is an area that has been against the government. Human Rights Watch produced a report last year called “development without freedom, how aid underwrites repression in Ethiopia.” The Ethiopia government is using access to aid as a weapon to control people and crush dissent. – Aman Obsiye

As I look at these pictures, a lot of times the impression that people get is that they are passive victims and that they are not part of the solution and this is an ongoing thing when it comes to Africa. And it’s not the right approach one should take. – Sharmarke Jama

One of the biggest criticisms of aid agencies is that they have created this dependency where people are not doing things that would sustain them. Instead, you’re relying on aid and you’re not developing your infrastructure, you’re not developing your farms, you’re not developing your agricultural industry and that’s very important to address. – Me.

[Audio below]