Matt Wade wrote an eye opening piece in the SMH on Saturday called A Tragedy in Niger. There is an ongoing crisis in Africa and in the modern world we cannot claim ignorance. How do we respond?
Step 1: Be aware. Appropriate action flows from an informed heart.
What ELSE do we do with Africa?
There are some categories that are helpful for me. There is the macro response and the micro response. There is the immediate response and there is the long term response. All 4 are needed if we are going to genuinely help.
The Macro response is where we try and make a dent in the problem. 99.99% of people cannot do this. The problem is simply too big. Philanthropists like Bill Gates can. However, our governments can make a macro response to global tragedies. They have the financial and political resources to make small but genuine dents in the problem.
“Last week, the Australian government committed an extra $16 million in emergency assistance to those affected by drought, local conflict and the collapse of local markets in west Africa and South Sudan. That brings Australia’s total humanitarian assistance to the Sahel and South Sudanese food crises to $31 million since the beginning of the year. The Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, said the crisis was ”escalating at an alarming rate”.
As a small nation we are making a tiny dent in the problem. My worry is that the nature of western consumerism and our political democracies is that foreign aid becomes an optional for rich nations. It worries me that to reach a budget surplus our government cut foreign aid amongst other things. Given our hung parliament and the dire predictions of the polls, it would not surprise me if foreign aid is cut again before the next election.
How can influence macro response to global issues?
We petition the government. We use the power of our words, the power of numbers, the power of our vote to persuade the government to act. They will not act unless prompted. Macro responses, large scale aid for tragic situations, in democratic countries must flow from people power not simply good policy.
How often do you write to your local member or the government? ‘
Happy to repost comments with helpful ideas/thoughts on how to prompt Macro responses by governments and institutions
Step 2: We play an active part in prompting Macro response.
More tomorrow ….