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Hunger and Famine in Africa by Amanda Herzog. I am here today to tell you all the grueling information about African survival due to famine and lack of food.
Here are some of the facts to set the stage why hunger is such a big issue in Africa. Every year 6 million children die from malnutrition before their 5th birthday. Over 60% of Africans earn less than a dollar per day and over 10 million Africans struggle each day to survive and support themselves and their hungry families.
As seen in the bar graph, in central Africa, as many as 55% of the population is undernourished which has increased since 1990 and areas of east and southern Africa have as much as 40% of their population undernourished.
The first problem is African governments which are ineffective and at unrest and have done very little to invest in rural areas where citizens are struggling the most. In countries such as Zambia there are warehouses full of food, but the governments either refuse to distribute it, or use it for their own benefit, depriving their people. Due to corruption and nepotism of African leaders, the African governments have been involved in 186 coups and 26 major wars in the past 50 years. Shown in the picture, these wars have led to about 16 million refugees or misplaced people.
Because these corrupt officials are only money hungry and don’t solve the problems in their countries, they turn to leasing their land foreign countries. Since 2005, governments in Cambodia and Ethiopia have leased about 15% of their land to private companies. The governments claim these interactions will strengthen Africa’s low agricultural productivity, but in reality, small businesses can’t succeed and agriculture continues to suffer. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, China leases about 700 hectares of land for palm oil production, but the Congo’s citizens rely on international food aid to survive. Although the desert and population are rapidly expanding, Mali’s government allows foreign countries to divert water from the Niger river, causing countries to suffer from a lack of water. The leasing of land leaves even less land for people to farm on, and natural disadvantages of the terrain makes amount of farmable land even smaller. Nearly 70% of Africa is grassland and tropical climates and Kenya is 80% grassland, not farmland. The small part of Africa that is used for farmland is overused and the soil isn’t nurturing anymore, and the is becoming unhealthy. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 31% of land is considered pastureland and the soil lacks nutrients from nutrient mining and overworked land. For the past 50 years, Africa has been pushed to use synthetic fertilizers and healthy seeds, but if there is little farmland, these products don’t work effectively.
Due to the economic hard times, African economies are destroyed, as food prices continue to rise. In 2005, corn prices were at their peak in Malawi and surrounding countries. In Somalia, during January and February of 2011, water prices rose by 300%, some families are selling their personal belongings and going into debt just to find water for their families. Somalia has little to no humanitarian relief, and these conditions will most likely cause an increase in malnutrition and diseases.
If a family can’t afford food, for many children their only meal of the day is during the course of the school day, where they are normally only fed a small bowl of porridge. Many children even bring home some of their food from school to share with their hungry families. Some people are so desperate that they have resolved to eating bark that has been boiled in contaminated water. This unhealthy diet has contributed to the very low life expectancy rate in many developing countries (as low as 38 in Angola). Inconsistent rains have caused severe drought for all communities, and in Somalia’s Puntland many families are suffering from the seventh failed rainy season in a row. Lack of rain has caused water catchments to dry up, and when people drink out of the same areas, the risk of disease greatly increases. Lack of food has caused wealthier nations, such as the United States to send genetically modified food, or GM food to Africa while other nations have sent money. There are both advantages and disadvantages of these two helping actions. In many areas where GM food is given, the local small farmer’s businesses are destroyed because people can get free food. In other areas where money is given, there are no markets to buy food and the money is not used at all, or not wisely. Some African countries, such as Zambia, have access to GM food, but they fear the health risks of it. The Zambian government has even asked the World Food Program to stop sending GM food to their country in the future. Catchments- way of catching water
Unchecked population growth has caused Africa to be a major importer of food, yet 200 million people are still malnourished. According to the UN population fund, “Sub-Saharan Africa’s population has grown faster than any region over the past 30 years, despite the millions of deaths from the AIDS pandemic.” The population is steadily increasing at a rate of about 2.2% per year, and the population doubled from 335 million to 751 million from 1975 to 2005.
The result of this population surge has been a dramatic increase in food imports. From 1966-1970, about 1.3 million tons of food was exported from Africa per year, but in 1990, Africa imported about 10 million tons of food into the continent. Governments fall into debt when they cant support their growing country. Since there is not enough water for everyone since water sources are quickly drying up, or people can’t afford water, they drink out of the same areas which increases the risk of waterborne diseases. When a family member is infected with AIDS, they are deprived of having a steady job and income; this results in a 60% decrease of food production with in a family. When a country is overpopulated, there is normally a high rate of unemployment because there are simply not enough jobs for the massive population. Forests are being destroyed as the growing population needs wood to build and land to expand. This leads to the extinction of plants and animals that could be vital to a persons survival. Lastly, as urban areas expand, both the air and water is contaminated by pollution which eventually leads to the depletion of natural resources.So far, over 2 billion hectares of land have been lost that would have been decent land for farming.
Genetically modified foods should be accepted by African governments and efficiently used to feed the starving people. First, GM foods would eliminate the use of chemical pesticides because the foods are pest resistant. This is beneficial because most consumers don’t want to buy products that have been treated with chemical pesticides because of health risks and the poisoning of the water supply. GM foods can also be made to withstand freezing temperatures which normally destroy seedlings, drought tolerant seeds will increase the amount of food production because the drought will not damage the crops. Lastly, modifying seeds to have added nutrients, vitamins and minerals would help to decrease malnutrition. Despite these advantages, there are many disadvantages to GM food. When wealthier nations dump tons of food into Africa, the people are able to access free food, and there is no reason to pay for food from small farmer’s. This causes small farmers businesses to suffer as no one is buying food from them. In America we have been eating GM foods for the past 20 years and haven't seen any harmful health risks. But 20 years is not very long, and there could be unknown health risks of GM food in the future. But we may not even know about the risks because GM foods aren’t labeled in stores, so we have no idea if they are causing health risks. Environmental risks are also a growing concern as scientists are worried that if seeds from GM foods are planted the natural food could even go extinct.
A second solution for hunger would be a better education on a number of issues. First, since there is little farmland, Africans should be educated about how to use modern technology to cultivate grassland. If Africans were educated about how to use their grazing animals for food more than using the farmland, they would save the sparse land. Lastly, the public needs to be educated on AIDS prevention and birth control because in 2009, about 1.3 million people died from AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. If the rate of AIDS decreased, there would be less orphans and parents would continue to support their families. There is no clear cut disadvantage of education, but some problems are massive size classes that are overcrowded with a lack of teachers. Also, many children don’t have access to an education, as 31 million children aren’t receiving an education in sub-Saharan Africa.
In my opinion, sending genetically modified food is a great immediate solution, but not ideal as a long term solution to fix the hunger problem and the economy. Educating Africans is a more practical solution because if people know how to efficiently use their land to produce crops to sustain their families, there will be no need for genetically modified crops from other nations. There are also many negative aspects of genetically modified foods that we may not even know about yet. Also, the economy will not get back on track if free food is surpassing food grown from small businesses and a thriving economy would definitely decrease the amount of hungry Africans.
For my personal involvement, I donated a flock of chickens and a flock of ducks to Heifer International. Heifer is an organization that gives gifts to struggling families in developing countries all around the world. Their mission is to create a sustainable world without poverty and hunger. These gifts are mostly animals (goats, chickens, pigs, llamas) that will benefit families with food to feed their people, offspring that can be sold, or fleece that can be woven into clothing to stay warm.
Chickens and ducks are resourceful gifts because although a family may only start with a few, they quickly multiply. A good hen can produce about 200 eggs a year which can help feed families, and then the extra eggs can be sold to make a profit. Duck eggs are also edible while both types of eggs provide a great source of protein. Both animals are easy to maintain, as they can live in small spaces, and only require scraps of food to survive. They also control insects, fertilize and remove weeds from gardens. Duck feathers can also provide excellent insulation in bedding and clothing and can be sold.
This is a map from the world food program where donations are also accepted to solve world hunger. As you can see in the map, there are many African countries that are shaded red, which means over 35% of the population is undernourished. Also in the green box, it stresses the importance of donations, as 25 cents could feed one child for the whole day.
Global hunger in africa presentation 4.11
Hunger and Famine in Africa<br />By: Amanda Herzog<br />
FACTS<br />Every year 6 million children die from malnutrition before their 5th birthday<br />60% of Africans earn less than a dollar per day<br />10 million Africans struggle to survive<br />
16 million refugees</li></li></ul><li>Effect<br />Cambodia and Ethiopia lease 15% of land<br />Small business suffer<br />China leases 7 million hectares of land <br />1 hectare = about 2.5 acres<br />Diverting water causing lack of water<br />Natural disadvantage of land<br />
Cause<br />Corn prices at peak in 2005<br />Somalia- Water prices rose 300%<br />Inconsistent rains<br />Rising Food Prices<br />