Public meetings pose tough questions about African development

By staff writers
January 18, 2008

Leading UK-based international development agency Christian Aid is hosting a series of public events in several major English cities addressing the issue of unfair trade, African poverty and how they can be addressed by public and politicians.

The series, entitled 'An African Scandal?', will further explore the themes of the TV documentary, The Great African Scandal, made by theologian and academic Dr Robert Beckford. The programme aired on Channel Four in 2007.

The first event takes place on 8 February 2008 at London South Bank University and will feature clips from the documentary and guest speakers. There will be four more events across the country and the programme presenter Dr Beckford will lead panel discussions with questions from the audience.

Last year, with Christian Aid’s support, Beckford travelled to Ghana to find out why, after 50 years of independence, a country so rich in natural resources remains trapped in poverty.

His journey exposed the scandal behind some of the rice, chocolate and gold sold on our high streets, and discovers how unfair economic policies are crippling farmers and locking their families into a life of deprivation.

Christian Aid’s trade campaign partners have focused on the rice sector in Ghana for many years. Damaging conditions attached to World Bank and IMF loans have forced the country to open its markets to foreign produce and prevented the government from supporting its own farmers.

Local farmers used to supply almost 50 per cent of their domestic market, but as rice imports have flooded in, especially from the USA, local rice farmers have seen their market share collapse.

Christian Aid has worked in Ghana since the 1970s and funds programmes through eight local partner organisations, some of which campaign on economic justice issues.

Dr Beckford said: "As a theologian, justice and the ongoing fight for change are central to my writing, teaching and film-making."

Each event will include clips from the Channel 4 programme, a panel discussion with questions from the audience and special guest appearances. Dr Robert Beckford will participate in the events. Refreshments will be provided. Entry is Free.

Tour Dates in full:

* London Friday 8 February 7pm

South Bank University Events Theatre, Keyworth Centre,
Keyworth Street, London SE1 6

* Birmingham Wednesday 20 February, 7pm

The Drum, 144 Potters Lane, Aston, B6 4UU

* Bristol Wednesday 27 February, 7pm

The British Empire & Commonwealth Museum,
Clock Tower Yard, Temple Meads, BS1 6QH

* Manchester Wednesday 5 March 7pm

Zion Arts Centre, 335 Stretford Road, M15 5ZA

* Liverpool Wednesday 12 March, 7pm

The Foundation of Art and Creative Technology
88 Wood Street, L1 4DQ

For more information and to reserve a place at one of the events please call +44 (0) 20 7523 2048

You can also buy Christian Aid gifts and support present aid online.

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