OK. So before I start this, a disclaimer: The fact that people are waking up out of their coma of apathy is great, and I can’t condemn that, but engaging in Facebook Clicktivism whilst half asleep is little better than sleepwalking out of your own window.
We need to think critically about this kind of thing, firstly. The FIRST invisible children video was shot in 2003, (http://ilto.wordpress.com/2006/11/02/the-visible-problem-with-invisible-children/) and the situation has changed. In circumstances as fluid and serious as this, it is important to have the most up-to-date information, not some second hand hyperbolised American cheese from a decade ago. The new one, I couldn’t say, admittedly. However, flying halfway around the world on your gap year to dig a well is not going to help anyone, and the money you fritter away doing it is not going to reach the people you, in your good intentions, are probably trying to help.
Only 34% of the money donated to Invisible Children goes to on-the-ground services (visiblechildren.tumblr.com) – a characteristic symptom of too many NGOs. What you are paying for is flights, travel expenses, HQ upkeep, admin and staff wages. There are plenty of other ways to change the way things are, such as LOCALLY DRIVEN grassroots community work. Happily, they are also far cheaper than shiny, rubber stamped-by-Bono token projects that fuck off back to the states and fail after the popular glow has worn off.
Aid creates dependency. Generations of poor children have grown up on UN handouts, and that is not a healthy atmosphere to engender the ability or motivation to work to improve the situation. Aid is the start a negative cycle, of which FDI, strings-attached aid, SAPs and donations are all a part of. Bottom Billion by Paul Collier gives an economist’s conservative (by my standards) slant on all of this – it is worth a read if insight is required.
The Ugandan government is pretty darn corrupt. Money spent in the country is likely to end up lining the velvet-trimmed pockets of fat cats in government who will finance arms deals, furnish the 4th LA mansion, or splash out on a new private jet. Again, read Collier.
Invisible Children advocate military intervention. How on Earth it makes sense to send in the army to stop war, I don’t know. The Ugandan military are probably nearly as bad as the rebels – they are rapists and murderers too. War is never a solution, war is never an end, and war is always murder. How can the murder of more innocent people be a positive answer to this problem?
I’m not saying don’t believe the hype. It’s just imperative that you look at things with a critical eye. Look at the flaws, and hopefully this can be the start of a new age of anti-apathy – the beginning of a new model of development that combats the root causes of war, debt and poverty.
Collier, Paul (2008) Bottom Billion