The World Cup ends, South Africa’s poverty remains

by Dawne on July 7, 2010

I’ve stumbled upon a news article in the online edition of the Globe and Mail that is well worth the read. I think the article is well written and hard-hitting. It raises a question we’ve yet to hear from the government of South Africa, FIFA or any of their sponsors:

“But is it worth $5-billion to produce a mood of national well-being? That’s the question the critics are asking. When the World Cup ends Sunday, the euphoria will soon fade, but South Africa’s harsh problems will remain: poverty; unemployment; poor housing; unofficial segregation and deep inequality. Millions of South Africans live in tin shacks without electricity or running water – and without hope of seeing the inside of the World Cup stadiums.”

I was surprised to find that the article failed to raise the issue of HIV/AIDS and the rising number of South African orphans. There can be no doubt that the other concerns raised in the article are legitimate concerns. But I confess I was taken aback that the issue of health care, both preventative and treatment based, was not raised even in passing.

Please read the article and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments below. Is a temporary feeling of well-being worth $5-billion or has South Africa created several large, white elephants that require millions to maintain? Will tourism dollars increase now that so many foreigners have had a safe and enjoyable visit to South Africa? If so, how will that revenue trickle down into programs that directly support the most vulnerable?

Also, please don’t forget about the 1GOAL Campaign and the need for Universal Education. “1GOAL is a campaign seizing the power of football to ensure that education for all is a lasting impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.”

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with 1GOAL I hope you will take a moment to join in. By sending your Yellow Card today you’ll join millions of people in letting world leaders know that the true goal of this World Cup is a quality education for every child.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

dave July 7, 2010 at 14:01

This brings to light the entire question of the obscene amount of dollars invested in the name of professional sports. Sport has become a business, with profit the driving motivation…why else are “sponsors” so prevalent.

Do I believe in the National Pride that events like the world cup and the Olympics promote? Of course. Am I proud to see my country on the world stage? Absolutely.

Do I think we need to spend the Billions we do to host these games? No way.

Investing in improved urban/rural transit, upgrading within reason existing facilities and public roads for these events? Sure. That benefits the country as a whole long after the games end.

Looking at the existing infastructure, most of what was built (new stadiums) just wasn’t needed. Looks great on TV, but like the above mentioned article states, are now the proverbial white elephants….not to be used with any regularity again. If you really needed a second stadium, OK. Find a way to build one in an area where it CAN be used as a rec/rugby/football/gathering place long into the future.

The World Cup could have been a total success with a billion dollar investment. What do you think we could have done with that other 4 billion. FOUR BILLION. Think about that, invested properly in the PEOPLE of South Africa….their health care, orphans, food, long term sustainable education and job training. What a story THAT would have been.

Using the World Cup to help educate the rest of the world on a proper balance of Capatalism and Humanitarianism is simply a horribly missed opportunity by the leaders of SA.

Andrea Palmatier July 7, 2010 at 14:33

Sad to say, in North America these are the headlines that get the most attention, not articles about AIDS orphans or healthcare. People here respond more to poverty and homelessness because it is also in our own backyard.

I think the SA government could have unequivocally gone about things differently, more to the benefit of their people than the global community. Why didn’t they take some of that $5B and relocate the people they evicted from shack settlements to proper housing instead of exacerbating the problem? Why did the SA government try to keep up with G8 countries by covering up their problems? Why can’t they turn the stadiums into some kind of housing or useful space? The government needs to realize 1) no one can truly help them but themselves and 2) denying the problems don’t make them go away.

My husband’s uncle has visited SA (to hunt) and after finding out about my work for KAS stated, “There aren’t any poor areas in South Africa.” I felt like marching him over to the computer and showing him a Square Circle newsletter. I should have because it’s people like him that spread this misinformation around.

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