This was posted up by the wonderful Lara MacPherson and I wanted to share it as well.
It is a film by Shantha Bloemen about Zambia, its debt and the secondhand clothes trade.
When we give our clothes to a charity store we justify our overconsumption by thinking that it will be helping charities, poor people and it will be resold in our local RedCross shop.
Most of the clothing donated to charity is not like that.
It will either have to be dumped – and the charity will have to pay for the landfill – or it will be sent to Africa to be traded and sold.
Secondhand clothing and the opening of free trade has lead to all local clothing manufacturers to close down.
The imagery of people trying to put their families through school by selling our old shirts and underwear is a bleak one.
According to the World Bank, 80% of Zambians live in abject poverty. Quarter of the workforce is sick on any given day. There are over 1 million orphans and over 70,000 children are homeless.
Education is for the rich only.
Due to the huge debt that Zambia is caught up in, the government has very little say in how the economics of the country are run. Since the 1980s, Zambia has had to follow policies set out and controlled by creditors. These structural adjustments have pushed Zambia further into poverty and with 50% of the population being under 15 – mostly unskilled and uneducated – one must wonder why the world continues to control the country in such a way.
The way that we consume has a direct effect on other poorer countries.
My strongest conviction is that foreign aid is near useless.
We need to change ourselves, our manufacturing policies, take responsibility for our own waste and our own food production.
And we need to allow countries like Zambia to take back their own lives, rebuild their manufacturing and food production and we need to stop dumping all our waste on them.
We are not helping. Zambia is poorer than it has ever been. Over $300 billion dollars has been poured into Africa since the 1950s and it is in a worse state than before. We need to stop thinking that we are the ones with the answer. We need to understand that the Zambian people know what is best for Zambia. And we need to leave them alone so that they can rebuild and have a chance at thriving.