By NBF News

Charity:Despite war, Somalia, others more generous than Nigeria -Study

War-torn Sierra Leone and Somalia seem more generous than Nigeria, according to the 2010 World Giving Index. NNAEMEKA MERIBE writes. With every effort now on rebuilding their country after many years of war, one would have thought that Sierra Leoneans and Somalis - who are still fighting - would be stingy. But a new study suggests that citizens of both countries, and to an extent, citizens of Liberia, which also experience civil strife not long ago, are more generous than Nigeria.

The study, which is the largest ever into global charitable behaviour, placed Australia and New Zealand joint top, with the United States in fifth and the United Kingdom eight.

The survey, conducted by UK's Charities Aid Foundation, suggests that the happier people are, the more likely they are to give time or money to charity. It suggests, too, that well-being is a more reliable indicator of philanthropy than wealth.

The 'World Giving Index' is the first report of its kind looking at global generosity. Using data from Gallup's Worldview World Poll, CAF looked at three types of charitable behaviour: Giving money, time as a volunteer and helping a stranger.

To produce the index, CAF, therefore, analysed generosity using an average of three measures the proportion of the public in each of the 153 countries who had, in the previous month, given money to charity, given time to those in need and helped a stranger. 'The World Giving Index allows us to establish a rounded view of charitable behaviour worldwide, reflecting the fact that being charitable is about more than simply giving money,' notes CAF.

The researchers found that predictably, some of the richer countries with strong histories of philanthropy come out top. These are Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Republic of Ireland.

But what is more surprising is that near the top, too, are poorer countries like Sri Lanka, Guyana and Turkmenistan - they also registered high levels of contentment.

Malta was found to be the country with the largest percentage of the population (83 per cent) giving money, the people of Turkmenistan are the most generous with their time - with 61 per cent having given time to charity while Liberia was top of the list for helping a stranger (76 per cent).

Sierra Leone is also high on the overall giving index, but contradicts the suggestion that well-being is a more reliable indicator of philanthropy than wealth, with its people registering the lowest well-being score in the world. The authors of the report, however, acknowledge that there are exceptions which are not always easy to explain.

At 11th and 18th respectively, Sierra Leone and Guinea are the two African countries on the top 21 countries in the overall index. Nigeria is 36th behind Angola (29th), Kenya (29th), Malawi (29th), Tanzania (33rd) and Central African Republic (33rd).

When it comes to giving money, Tanzania tops in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 42 per cent of its people giving to charity. War-torn Somalia follows with 35 per cent and Kenya with 30. Nigeria and Sierra Leone and Malawi follow with 29 per cent each.

In terms of volunteering time, only 28 per cent of Nigerians are ready to part with their time for charitable causes. Central African Republic is the top Sub- Saharan African country in the list, with 47 per cent while Sierra Leone follows with 45 per cent and then Guinea with 42. Angola comes after Guinea with 39 per cent, followed by Malawi with 35 per cent. Nigeria and Kenya are directly behind Malawi with 28 per cent.

In terms of giving help to a stranger, Liberia is top both in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the World (76 per cent) followed by Sierra Leone (75 per cent) and Kenya (64 per cent). Directly behind Kenya are Botswana (62per cent), Nigeria, Angola and Guinea (61 per cent) each.

The stingiest Sub-Sahara African country is Benin as it is ranked 106 in the index. While 19 per cent of its citizens are generous with their money and time, 37 per cent are willing to give a stranger a helping hand.

Curiously, Africa's biggest economy, South Africa, is ranked 76 in the index. While 15 per cent of its citizens are willing to give money to charity, 19 per cent are willing to give their time and 57 per cent willing to offer help to a stranger.

Sierra Leone, Liberia and Somalia are all war-ravaged countries, but amazingly, they all received good mention in the index.

Sierra Leone fought a bitter civil war from 1991 to 2002. Liberia in the past 21 years has fought two civil wars. First, from 1989 to 1996 and, then, from 1999 to 2003. For Somalia, its civil war has been ongoing since 1991.

However, the researchers are keen not to offend sensibilities and make a point of saying all countries give to charity in different ways.

The countries near the bottom of the list include Greece, India and China. The charity's director of research, Mr. Richard Harrison, says the reason may have to do with the proportion of the population who give.

'An important factor is whether the culture of giving has reached the man in the street; in some fast-developing countries it may be just rich individuals who are the main charitable donors. So they register a low score when a cross-section of the population is surveyed,' he says.

CAF, which was set up to foster a culture of giving, argues that the research will help governments around the world do more to encourage all of their population to be more philanthropic - whether through tax incentives or closer community cohesion.

The idea is to promote giving and create a positive cycle in which society improves, people become happier and are therefore willing to give more.