Why We Should Stop Donating Clothes to Africa

The history of a crisis caused by used clothes that forced entire governments to ban donation imports

Levi Borba
8 min readJun 30, 2021


Flea market in Ezulwini, Swaziland. Women selling second-hand clothes from overseas. Author: FredinEzulwini. Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

TThere is a proverb my parents told me. It translates to don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. It means we should not be demanding with things that we receive for free.

But what if I told you that some gifts may cause the economic collapse of an entire industry, over an entire continent, making thousands of people lose their jobs, creating an environmental disaster, and — this is the curious part — the victims still must pay for the so-called donations?

It is no exaggeration to say that donating clothes is one of the worst things that you, a middle-class citizen of a developed country, can do to Africa.

Here I will tell you why, but before, some context.

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