Azara Blog: If ... We Stopped Giving Aid to Africa

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Date published: 2005/06/26

The BBC had an absolutely dreadful docu-drama on BBC2 tonight, called "If ... We Stopped Giving Aid to Africa". If you did not read the blurb ahead of time, you at first would not know that it was a docu-drama, and it starts out convincingly enough with supposed video of an aid worker (who supposedly died recently) saying that perhaps all this aid was a complete waste of money and doing more harm than good. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint) it becomes fairly obvious fairly quickly that this is all made up. For one thing his parents and sister are far too slick and far too cold in their interviews to be convincingly upset or concerned. Then the programme fast forwards (not clear for how long) to 2015. And so the viewer has to assume (and it is almost certainly the case) that all the so-called interviews are completely fake. (The only real bits are playbacks of old television news stories about Africa.)

This is a completely disgusting programme. It is fair enough to question whether aid is doing more harm than good (it probably is in many circumstances, e.g. food aid can put local farmers out of business by undercutting prices). If the programme writer and director (someone by the name of Richard Alwyn) wanted to make a serious programme about this issue then he could easily have assembled plenty of people to discuss it. Instead we have his fantasy and spin and it all leaves a bad taste. This is the BBC sinking to a new low.

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