by John Hilary
For 35 years now, there has been a raging debate within international NGO circles around the use of images of starving black children in fundraising materials. One seminal piece by Jorgen Lissner in the New Internationalist accused aid agencies of ‘social pornography’ in stripping individual children of their dignity and presenting them to the Western viewer as helpless objects isolated from any social or historical context, and called for an end to the racist distortion that this perpetuated in people’s conception of the majority world.
An international medical NGO is staffing a health clinic in a remote village located near a large-scale agriculture enterprise operated by a multinational corporation. Many of the clinic’s patients are migrant workers who have come to the region seeking work at the commercial farm. Employees receive low wages by local standards, work very long hours, and have poor living conditions. Many of the workers and their family members present to the clinic with signs of malnutrition. A number of them also report respiratory complaints and skin and eye problems, which they associate with their handling of pesticides on the large farm.
by Dr Paul Bouvier
Thank you for sharing these very interesting reflections on the use of images in this MSF campaign. As is underlined by de Laat in her piece, this campaign in 2005 was a creative attempt to find ways out of traditional campaigns based on images from abroad. This attempt raised, however, other concerns related to the use of individual portraits in humanitarian campaigns. I was at the time the director of the Services for health promotion and protection for children and youth in the canton of Geneva. This is how I have been involved in the management of unanticipated effects of the campaign.
by Harry Shannon
I took this picture about 21 months after the 2010 Haiti earthquake that caused so many deaths and so much destruction. A study I co-authored (Kolbe et al. 2010) estimated that in the capital, Port-au-Prince, the excess mortality due to the quake was about 156,000, with thousands more dying elsewhere in the country. We also found that a quarter of homes were completely destroyed, and a further 40% had some damage, leaving only a third with no visible damage.