Africa is Poor and 5 Other Myths: Simon Moss at TEDxWarwick (Transcript)

Ask them what proof you have, to make sure your money is really going to make a difference. And ask them how they know when they’ve failed, and what they’re going to do about it. Because all in all, actually, we can make a huge difference. Because when we ask better questions, we ask questions like, “Can they read and write?” We can start making sure that charities are focusing on what really matters. Which is making sure that people living in poverty themselves have a chance to fight it.

I want to finish with a couple of alternative suggestions to this idea, that are put out around these myths. First, Africa is a continent that’s rich, it’s wealthy, it’s wonderful. Too many Africans are poor because they’ve got bad governments, and because we’ve got governments and systems that allow them to do that. If we’re serious, what we need to do is start telling people about what’s actually happening. Demonstrate that poverty is really getting better around the world, in the vast majority of places and for the vast majority of people.

To demonstrate that, actually, the best way to slow population growth is by making sure that kids can go to school, and making sure that more kids survive. The best way to reduce pressures on population, the best way to reduce pressures on food, is to waste less food ourselves. And the best way to make sure we’re really making a difference — is to say that good intentions aren’t enough, that we can make a huge difference. But only if we stop to ask a few questions first. Only if we stop to ask the question, “Is what I’m doing actually going to help?” “How’s it going to help? Whom am I going to help?” “And do they actually want my help?” Thank you very much.

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