Stopkilingus.org and misguided activismPosted: December 4, 2006
For the last month or so I’ve been seeing people walking around the city wearing black t-shirts with www. stopkillingus.org written on them. Now, in the beginning I assumed that they were second hand shirts from some foreign advocacy campaign. But then I kept seeing them around and then I started seeing banners with the URL so I figured it was something local and finally decided to check it out.
So…. which of our numerous domestic issues does it address? Corruption? Education? Infrastructural issues? Domestic violence maybe? Nope. Climate change. As you can tell from their site, its all about the dangers posed to Africa by global warming and the climate change it will bring with it. As the title implies, I see this as a prime example of the kind of misguided activism that is rife in Africa.
Why do I consider it misguided exactly? Is it because I feel that the country doesn’t need to be sensitized about environmental issues? Not at all. I have a rant about our ignorance of such things and what it could possibly cost us planned for the near future. I don’t doubt the good intentions of the NGO who funded this project either. I do doubt their good sense though, partly because of the obvious financial cost but mostly because of where the campaign is targeted.
First,money. They spent money on(reportedly) hundreds of thousands of shirts, banners, radio and TV spots, a website(which incidentally shows preference to IE over all other browsers) and a high profile launch at Busy Internet, probably not cheap either. If you’re an NGO in a cash strapped developing country shouldn’t you be looking for more bang for your buck? Is this truly the best use for what had to be a fair amount of cash?
Secondly, target group. This is fairly simple actually. If you truly want to make a dent in worldwide emission of greenhouse gases and thus halt climate change where is the best place to start? Ghana, or someplace more industrialized that burns more fossil fuels? I mean, I doubt if we crack the top 100 carbon emitters in the world. Why not spend that money to lobby some of the countries at the top of the list? What will that really achieve?
Thing is, these guys are, in a lot of ways, symptomatic of the main issue I have with a lot of NGO’s in this part of the world. While they do mean well, the plans they choose to implement and how they implement them leave a lot to be desired. I’ll talk more about this later.