The folks at GlobalCitizen.gov are consistently working to educate people about the Developing World and sustainability. They created a campaign that we at Atacora came across recently that deals with the five myths surrounding Africa that we constantly come up against in our Fair Partnership™ work in Benin, West Africa.
Our vision at Atacora is based on our unique Fair Partnership™ model. Our 500+ producers and affiliated women’s cooperatives help us to highlight the rich human and natural resources Africa holds. We feel a camaraderie with Global Citizen’s effort to “Stop the Myth” and have decided to join the campaign to educate people about the five common misconceptions surrounding Africa.
1. AFRICA is POOR.
This myth speaks about poverty too narrowly. We wish to emphasize the fact that Africa has many sustainable, natural and human resources that can be revalued to sustainably improve socio-economic conditions in Africa without creating dependency.
2. THE ONLY WAY to HELP is by VOLUNTEERING
It is not uncommon for a volunteer from a more affluent country to think that they would be doing a lot of good to travel to the developing world in order to build houses or dig wells or bring clothing. This approach fails to address the causes of poverty. This myth discredits the persons living in developing countries by perpetuating the belief that they need these volunteers and their services to fight poverty. Believe us when we say that these folks have no lack of ability!
Nurturing women in particular as principle economic actors, and promoting the people’s ownership of their futures, we can and will make strides in the effort to keep Africa for Africans.
3. THERE ISN’T ENOUGH FOOD.
Contributing to this myth are the large corporations which monopolize the means of agricultural production, as well as the misallocation of resources, over-consumption and wastefulness. There is plenty of food to properly nourish the entire global population, but too much is consumed or wasted in developed nations, and centralized production creates dependency.
The problem is not that there is not enough food. There is plenty of food, and a decentralized agricultural system with stable methods of production, as well as systems set in place to help minimize waste would provide more than enough food for every person on this planet.
4. THERE ARE TOO MANY CHILDREN.
No doubt, there are many, many children in Africa. Studies show that better education creates economic opportunities and advancement, and family size typically declines. Educating girls to give them opportunities as key economic actors and more control of reproduction is the most effective way to stabilize growing populations.
5. POVERTY is GETTING WORSE.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation focuses on reducing global poverty through economic growth. “By focusing on policy reforms, economic growth opportunities deliver tangible results and shared learning on what is and is not working.” As a result of MCC’s efforts in Africa, over 656,000 people now have improved access to clean water, more than 188,000 farmers have been trained, and close to 268,000 households now have legal protections for their land.
With revalued resources, our Beninese producers have seen greater opportunity for economic growth and ownership over their futures. The money earned from producers’ sustainably-harvested goods, and the wages earned by our women’s cooperatives contribute to improved education for their sons and daughters. This creates a cycle of better education for Beninese youth, and more opportunities for economic advancement.
These myths can be attributed to a lack of understanding of deeper issues surrounding poverty in the developing world. Efforts to further educate individuals on the many causes of poverty in order to have a broader understanding of development and progress is one small way in which we can work together for a brighter African future.