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Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

8 goals for Africa

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

The ‘8 GOALS FOR AFRICA’ song is part of an awareness and advocacy campaign developed by the United Nations in South Africa on the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The MDGs are an eight-point road map with measurable targets and clear deadlines for improving the lives of the world´s poorest people. They make up the Millennium Declaration, which was an historic promise made by 189 world leaders in 2000. Ten years later our leaders are meeting again on 20 September in New York to review the progress, it is up to us to make sure world leaders keep their promise.

The ‘8 GOALS FOR AFRICA’ music video will be screened throughout the Football World Cup. On the day of the finals, all 8 artists will come together to sing the song in a live performance at the Soccer City Fan Fest in Johannesburg.

For more information about this campaign go to

On the ‘who should i cheer for’ website you can compare the teams according to their level of social and environmental responsibility.’

‘Who should I cheer for’

The Life You Can Save

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

If we could easily save the life of a child, we would. For example, if we saw a child in danger of drowning in a shallow pond, and all we had to do to save the child was wade into the pond, and pull him out, we would do so. The fact that we would get wet, or ruin a good pair of shoes, doesn’t really count when it comes to saving a child’s life.

UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, estimates that about 24,000 children die every day from preventable, poverty-related causes. Yet at the same time almost a billion people live very comfortable lives, with money to spare for many things that are not at all necessary. (You are not sure if you are in that category? When did you last spend money on something to drink, when drinkable water was available for nothing? If the answer is “within the past week” then you are spending money on luxuries while children die from malnutrition or diseases that we know how to prevent or cure.)

The Life You Can Save seeks to change this. If everyone who can afford to contribute to reducing extreme poverty were to give a modest proportion of their income to effective organizations fighting extreme poverty, the problem could be solved. It wouldn’t take a huge sacrifice.

But first we need to change the culture of giving – to make giving to help the needy something that any normal decent person would do. To help bring about this change, we need to be upfront about our giving. Will you take the pledge, and thereby encourage others to do the same?

For more details, and sources for the claims made here, please see the book The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty.

VSA (Volunteer Service Abroad)

Friday, February 20th, 2009

What do they do?
VSA recruits and sends skilled New Zealanders to work as volunteers with communities in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.

How can I get involved?
Volunteer overseas! VSA has formed an alliance with Students Partnerships Worldwide (SPW) and is recruiting now for 18-28 year olds looking for a 9-11 month experience in Africa. You will go through a training programme, where you’ll learn new and fun ways of teaching messages about health and the environment. Then you will be posted to a community with local volunteers, where you will be supported by SPW to work on one of three key themes: health (and in particular HIV/AIDS education), the environment, or community development.

The bitter side of chocolate

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

Eva Lawrence, Just Focus Coordinator

Whether you are a whitey, darkie, nutty or gooey on the inside what we all have in common is that we love chocolate. Oh chocolate, it is one of those rare pleasures that releases endorphins and keeps us coming back for more… well enough on that.
cocoa beans
When you find out about where chocolate comes from and the unfair conditions that people experience to bring us that magic bar, it can leave a nasty bitter taste in your mouth.

Chocolate comes from the cocoa bean and is produced tropical countries. Most of the world’s cocoa is grown in West Africa — the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and the Cameroon. Almost half of the cocoa worldwide comes from the Ivory Coast.

Conditions for people working on cocoa farms are often terrible. Poverty is extreme, hours long and tasks unsafe. Child labour is common on cocoa farms, and these children often lack any chance of gaining an education as they are working from a young age.

In the Ivory Coast slavery is also occurring. Children and young men, many from neighbouring Mali are being sold or tricked into slavery. Child slaves are forced to work long hours, are underfed and of course, not paid. They are kept in inhuman conditions — often locked in at night so they can’t run away. Those that do try to escape are physically punished.

Chocolate in New Zealand

  • Cadburys claim to source their cocoa from Ghana and Malaysia
  • Whittakers claim to source their cocoa from Ghana
  • Nestle source their cocoa from a number of countries including the Ivory Coast.

(Source: Oxfam)

Bitter Ingredients
Cocoa prices are unfair and unstable on the international market. A small number of multinational corporations control the market and exploit the need of poor farmers to have an income — once the crop is grown a low price is better that no price. Therefore exporters are competing for sales by offering the lowest prices. This means that farmers have few options other than paying their workers low wages.
3 men in ghana sorting cocoa beans
Cocoa makes up a significant part of the income of some West African Countries. For the Ivory Coast for example, approximately one third of the national income comes from cocoa. Cash cropping has replaced the diverse and locally sustaining farming of the past. This means that the population is dependent on earning money from international markets to earn money to be able to buy food. Cash cropping, as well and removing the independence of communities, also creates vulnerability of economic collapse due to natural disasters, pests and crop disease.

Poverty, as always, is a huge factor in the unfair conditions. Most of the enslaved workers come from Mali, which is one of the poorest countries in the world. Young people hoping for work in neighbouring countries have been easy prey for child traffickers.

The sweeter side - Fairtrade
There is a positive side to this story though. Fairtrade cooperatives have been set up for cocoa growing in a number of countries. With fairtrade, farms are guaranteed a fair price for their cocoa and the workers receive a fair wage. Fairtrade certification forbids the use of slave labour or children working if it interferes with their education or in dangerous conditions. Furthermore, money is paid to invest in developing the community and schools

Global Links
kids in Ghana
Chocolate, which is so associated with positive stuff here in Aotearoa New Zealand, is directly linked with a whole lot of very negative stuff in some poor countries. It is a clear illustration of the link between us all in this globalised world. As is the case in many trade situations, we in the west gain goods from the labour of those in developing countries The good thing about this link is that we can do something about it.

There is no need to give up your chocolate addiction, but there are a number of things you can do to make chocolate sweeter for everyone.


  • Join the fair-trade chocolate campaign!
  • Fairtrade Fortnight goes from April 29 to May 13 2006— Get involved
  • Write to your favourite chocolate company and tell them you want them to use fair-trade cocoa
  • Buy fair-trade chocolate — available from Trade Aid and some health food stores.


Fairtrade Association of Australia and New Zealand
Trade Aid

This article was originally published in Jet magazine in the Focus column. All photos courtesy of Oxfam.