Sending clothes to third world countries – is it good or bad for African countries?


charity clothing africa

Charitable giving. Who could be against that? Especially this time of year, Tis The Season for Giving, right?
There are so many poor and disadvantaged children in Africa, that every little bit of help from companies like A&E Clothing is not only appreciated, but absolutely necessary.

Clothing is one of the three basic human needs, along with food and shelter. With over one billion people on the continent, one of the world’s highest birthrates, together with the fact that over half of the population is classified as poor, there is a desperate need for sending clothes to third world countries.

There is however a down side to all this foreign aid. While it might make us Westerners feel good about going out of our way to send clothes to third world countries, we have to ask if the result is really what we hope.

Studies have shown that charitable organizations that send the clothes abroad have no control over where the shipment ends up. Some just end up left on the dock, because no arrangements or contacts have been made at the destination. Others end up in the hands of the local black market economy, where they are shipped off to where they can fetch top dollar in areas that crave American and European goods.

Even when the clothes reach their desired destination, the most harm is done to local businesses. A textile plant or finished clothing business cannot compete with free stuff. Many developed industries have closed their doors when the markets were opened to charities. In many areas, there is no jobs to replaced these that were lost.

While sending clothes to third world countries may sound and feel like a great idea, it is not always worth the effort because of the unintended consequences.


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