Thursday, May 5, 2011
Junction News: Starvation in Africa: An all too Common Tale
Today I read a shocking report on the current situation of food shortages in the central African nation of Niger. Here hunger is threatening up to eight million people in the nation, half of its roughly 16 million population. The nation is in dire need of rainfall after drought has destroyed the lifestock of the largely nomadic country. The great hunger also threatens 2 million people in areas of the neighbouring countries of Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and northern Nigeria.
The UN World Food Programme says it only has half of the $213 million people it claims it needs to up the distribution of emergency food aid. Response to the crisis has so far been quite slow. The reason given for this is both obvious and devastating.
Everyone remembers the Ethiopian famine of the 1990's, the horrible devastating pictures of mal-nutrition and deformities and diseases that resulted from it. However, we are yet to see such horrifying pictures appearing on advertisements for charity organisations in the West. The question we have to ask ourselves is why. Why do we need to be shamed into action. Lets look at some statistics to better illustrate my point.
Every year 15 million children die of hunger. They don't have a voice to tell you about their situation but they are there in pain and suffering, right now. Over 160 million kids under 5 currently worldwide are what is classified as malnourished. And here is a fascinating statistic. If you take the assets of the three richest people in the world it is greater than the combined GDP of all of the world's Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Starvation has no place in the civilisation we have created in 2010 (not to say that people arent deeply affected by hunger in parts of the West). If we wait until we are again shamed into action it will be too late. For the estimated 800 million people in the world who are currently starving that will most certainly be too late.