Oxfam: 'Band Aid' Image Damages Africa Efforts

The British public needs to get rid of the "Band Aid" portrayal of Africa as a hopeless continent if they are to help with its problems, Oxfam says.

The charity says Africa's negative image in Britain is undermining efforts to bring an end to hunger on the continent.

The aid agency has revealed that three-fifths of people questioned for a survey said they have become desensitised to images of hunger, drought and disease.

Although nearly three-quarters of respondents thought it was ultimately possible to bring an end to hunger across the continent, only one in five believed they could play an active role in achieving it.

Almost half of more than 2,000 people surveyed by YouGov identified hunger as one of the three most pressing problems facing Africa next year.

Respondents said media and advertising portrayals of Africa and developing countries in other parts of the world are "depressing, manipulative and hopeless".

And just under half said they were left feeling that conditions for people living in the developing world would never improve.

The results come 18 years after Bob Geldof and Midge Ure formed their Band Aid charity supergroup in response to shocking images of people affected by the famine in Ethiopia.

Oxfam says it intends to strike a more optimistic tone in its future campaigning.

Its chief executive, Dame Barbara Stocking, said: "Oxfam has led the way in drawing attention to the plight of Africa's most vulnerable people and we aren't trying to gloss over the problems that still beset so many of them, particularly levels of malnutrition that remain stubbornly high.

"But we've come a long way since the 1980s and Band Aid's Do They Know it's Christmas? We need to shrug off the old stereotypes and celebrate the continent's diversity and complexity, which is what we are attempting with this campaign.

"The relentless focus on ongoing problems at the expense of a more nuanced portrait of the continent, is obscuring the progress that is being made towards a more secure and prosperous future.

"If we want people to help fight hunger we have to give them grounds for hope by showing the potential of countries across Africa; it's a natural instinct to turn away from suffering when you feel you can do nothing to alleviate it."