Together with our local chapters, SAIH has worked with the theme "Our image of the global South" for several years. As part of this work, the idea of Radi-Aid came up, which since 2012 has received wide attention in Norway and internationally.
Since 1999, SAIH has been engaged in questions around how the Western media, aid organizations and academia – our main communicators of information about Africa and development countries – often present an image which is lacking in nuance and focuses exclusively upon war, poverty and conflict. An oversimplified image can be a direct hindrance to development in a country. Students and academics are important agents in the development of a society, making it essential that we understand how the world is actually structured.
A central argument in this work has been that charity campaigns can risk being counterproductive to their own goals if they obscure the actual causes of poverty. We need more nuanced information about development and poverty, not oversimplified half-truths.
As a result of this work came the idea for "Radi-Aid", which received an enormous amount of attention in 2012 – more than we could have ever imagined. It showed that we had hit a nerve. People all around the world were ripe for a debate about Western representations of Africa and developing countries.
A tendency in aid organizations' charity campaigns is that poor people are portrayed as passive recipients of help, without the ability or desire to make their country a better place to live. This kind of portrayal creates a significant distinction between us and them. We need more focus on how people can earn money themselves, through tourism, agriculture and sustainable investments. This requires political change, also in wealthy countries like Norway.
Stereotypes and oversimplifications lead to poor debates and poor policies. To change the way that aid organizations communicate, we have created an award ceremony for the most harmful and the most creative charity campaign videos: The Radiator Awards – read more here.
And what do we think about stereotypes and half-truths? Watch this video and find out:
"Let's Save Africa – Gone Wrong" was crowned one of the worlds ten best videos in 2013 by the web-giant TED, and has been covered by TV2, NRK, Aftenposten, Dagbladet, Al-jazeera, BBC, NPR, Radio France Internationale, and Süddeutsche Zeitung.The video "Radi-Aid: Africa for Norway" from 2012 also received attention in Norway and abroad.The video has been seen over 2.5 million times on YouTube, and received coverage from The Guardian, Huffington Post, Washington Post, New York Ties, AFP, NPR, ZDF, Deutche Welle, CNN and was shown on Swedish, Danish, Dutch, French, South African and Norwegian tv.
Our last video, "Who Wants to be a Volunteer" is a game show parody and puts a new spin on the idea of "saving Africa".It has also received a great deal of coverage and debate around the world, this time around the ideas of volunteering and so-called "voluntourism".
For more questions or inquiries concerning Radi-Aid, please contact us: