Top 3 Aid Fails of 2012

There has been a lot of self-criticism and self-reflection within the humanitarian aid sphere over the past year, which is something I'd argue was very much needed. Although there is always room for improvement, I think that discussions over the past year had led to significant improvements in the effectiveness of aid, such as making aid more transparent, consulting those whom aid is meant to help, and attempting to no longer resort to colonial representations of white saviors and starving Africans to illicit donations (although there is still much improvement to be made in this area).

However, despite the hard work of professionals in the humanitarian aid field to improve aid's effectiveness, there are still those good-intentioned souls out there who think they have the quick fix to the world's woes. This post is a review of the past year's aid fails, where good intentions go very bad. 

Knickers 4 Africa
Australian busy-bodies, likely in a quest to feel good about themselves, decided this year to set up a donation campaign which donated "pre-lovedlingerie and underwear to Zimbabwean women in order to prevent sexual abuse. Wait, what? The brain behind this initiative, Morag Raysays that underwear acts as a "social barrier" which protects woman against sexual abuse. What resulted was Knickers 4 Africa. 6,500 new bras and underwear and "tens of thousandsof used bras and underwear were donated to women in Zimbabwe. The problems with this campaign are obvious for those familiar with bad aid. First, I've never heard of anyone in Africa lacking proper undergarments. Secondly, a donation of tens of thousands of used underwear undermines the local economy and those dependent upon it. Thirdly, GROSS. If you wouldn't want to wear someone's used underwear  why would a woman in Zimbabwe?
Pillowcase Dresses for Haiti (and Africa)
And organization called Little Dresses for Africa has been transforming pillowcases into dresses for young African girls for years. With Haiti's earthquake two years ago, many well-intentioned souls shifted their attention from Africa to Haiti, choosing to create and donate these pillowcase dresses for young Haitian girls. Some of these well-intentioned yet misinformed people included a church group who used old Hotel pillowcases for the material for these dresses. Once again, this is an aid fail for all the obvious reasons of it being ineffective and inefficient. Secondly, do the people making these hideous pillowcase dresses think that Africans and Haitians have no self-respect? These dresses are ugly! As Charles Kenny rightly explains, "Haiti Doesn't Need Your Old T-Shirt" - one man's junk is another man's junk. Thirdly, who knows how nasty those pillowcases are...
Photo via USA Today
50 Cent Manipulates Somali Famine for Self-Promotion
American rapper 50 Cent went on a World Food Programme sponsored trip to Somalia earlier this year where the only good he did was likely keep his mouth shut illicit a few extra donations for WFP by posing with Somali children. The dumbest thing he did while in Somalia: Promise that he would donate 1 million meals to starving Somalis if 1 million people liked his new Street King energy shot Facebook page. Apparently 50 Cent sees no issue with promoting his energy shots at the expense of a child's health and well-being. The problem with this campaign of self-promotion is that if 50 Cent had the ability to donate 1 million meals (which he obviously did), then why didn't he just do it? Is anything done out of purely selfless good intentions anymore? You be the judge. 
Photo via Somalia Report


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