Africa Rising

Director(s) Jamie Doran
Date released (year) 2011
Production company Clover Films
Length 55 mins
Location Ethiopia
Keywords/tags Aid, poverty, underdevelopment
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Synopsis From   Clover films and film maker Jamie Doran, comes a documentary examining the   failure of western policies towards Africa and rethinking the role of western   aid workers on the continent.

Narrated by Tilda Swinton, Africa Rising takes a look at the benefits of   ‘Self Help’ in Ethiopia, a country potentially rich in resources, looking to   find its own way out of poverty

Reviews/discussion Remember Band Aid, Live   Aid and developed countries’ determination to ‘Feed the World’? Well, we   failed. There are more Africans living in extreme poverty today than ever before.

Africa Rising goes right   inside the extraordinary story of how a large rural area of Ethiopia is   taking itself out of poverty. With a cast of thousands, the film reveals a   new dawn of Africans solving Africa’s needs themselves.

For the real scandal of   Ethiopia is that, like much of the rest of Africa, it is a potentially rich   country with enormous resources. But what has not been recognised, until now,   is that the solution to its dilemma lies in the hands of its own people.

This controversial, colourful   and frequently uplifting documentary highlights the failure of Western   policies towards Africa, asking whether it is time to reconsider the role of   Western aid workers on the continent.

Take a look around   Ethiopia: in many regions schools lie abandoned; in others you find derelict   hospitals; all around are vast areas of dry, barren land where the soil has   been washed away.

Misguided Western   governments and aid agencies thought they knew the answer – billions upon   billions of dollars, euros and yen committed with virtually no long-lasting   results and much of the money ending up in the wage packets of foreign aid   workers, in bank accounts far from Africa.

But it did not need to be   this way; with costs at just a fraction of the norm, the answer was astonishingly   simple. Twenty men and women are taught new skills such as dam building,   bricklaying, soil rotation, micro-banking or livestock rearing. The deal is   that each of them has to pass their new-found knowledge on to 20 more people   – their ‘followers’. Those ‘followers’ then pass it on to 20 more and so on.   Within a short period, tens of thousands are now growing cash crops for the   first time, digging irrigation systems and even building their own hospitals   and schools.

Shot on a grand scale   across great swathes of land, this film records a success story in one of the   most deprived regions of the world.

“The general perception of   Ethiopia, gained through grim television pictures and the odd article in some   glossy magazine whose editor has discovered a social conscience for about 20   seconds, is of famine-stricken, dried-up, dust-covered desperation. This was   my first visit to the country and, frankly, I had roughly the same perception   before my arrival. What I discovered opened my eyes up not just to how much   needs to be done, but how it is being done by Africans themselves.

If you drive around   Ethiopia, the real tragedy of well-intended yet misguided aid efforts is   there for everyone to see. Abandoned health centres, recently-built schools   collapsing through neglect, soil dried to dust in areas of plentiful   rainwater. It doesn’t seem to make sense; that is until you realise that most   of these aid-backed projects were attempted in isolation: one NGO here,   another there, thinking they know best what is needed now, rather than   looking to the long-term.” Click here to read more of Africa Rising director Jamie   Doran’s account of his first trip to Ethiopia


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