I read “The Last Hunger Season” in 02016 about the NGO One Acre Fund, who is working in Africa to provide seed, fertilizer and planting techniques to help farmers there produce more.
I am currently listening to the book “Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty” which is talking about how providing seed and fertilizer is not enough, if the farmers there can’t sell their food into a developed market, they will have to sell when the price is low which puts the farmers in basically the same place they were before all the help.
The Last Hunger Season was published in 2013 and Enough was published in 2010. I figured that it’d been enough time that maybe the actions being taken by the people would be having an effect in Ethiopia, Kenya and other countries in Africa that they are working in.
Imagine my surprise when the first article I find when searching “Are Africans hungry” yielded the below headline “United Nations issues ultimatum as millions face starvation” and with this comment in the article “More than 30 million people need food assistance in Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia due to conflict and drought….Wars in Yemen, northeastern Nigeria and South Sudan have devastated households and driven up prices, while a drought in east Africa has ruined the agricultural economy.”
I like to think I keep a pretty close watch on major news. I had not heard any ultimatum about millions of people starving in Africa lately, have you?
After I continued searching for a few more topics related to Kenya, Ethiopia, Africa, etc and getting in a short Facebook discussion with a relative about what causes a country to have a lack of food, greedy leadership, actual lack of food, etc, I found the below articles.
Issuing a “desperate” appeal for the international community to meet a request from the United Nations for about £1.5bn of aid, the charity also said the worst drought in living memory demonstrated why the world must act to reduce global warming. While some still deny the severity of climate change and question the need to combat it, others are struggling for their lives as climate change makes a bad situation worse,” Oxfam said.
“Anyone with a modicum of education today knows that while drought may, indeed, be a natural calamity, famine is man-made, an outcome of mismanagement, incompetence and criminal dereliction of today.”
I get pretty sick of seeing articles from fellow Americans that are discussing their “problems” like too many GMO foods or how they think climate change is not real because of a bad snow storm. I’m also frustrated by people driving gas guzzling trucks around while you have a perfectly good option of buying a Prius or even better a Nissan Leaf! Now I am not a perfect person myself. I own a few old vehicles that are not particularly environmentally friendly. I am still not sure what exactly to do with them. We don’t talk much about “how to make the world a better place for everyone” and I am not sure why we don’t do that? Why is the 3 year drought in Africa not a headline?
I watched this great video by NubmersUSA.org and Roy Beck about immigration. After that short presentation it’s pretty simple to understand that immigration is not the answer to helping most people in the world improve their situation.
On a positive note, and recognizing someone who seems to be trying to help in Africa, I want to highlight Akon Lighting Africa. Akon, a rapper turned businessman, is working to provide solar lights, which can lengthen working and learning (productive) hours, provide safety (lighter places are safer) available to the people he is helping.
I also want to recognize Mobius Motors, a company that is working to provide rugged, durable, vehicles, built for the African market.
Are these entrepreneurs, working to solve problems and still make a profit, the right answer to solve all the problems in Africa? If so, how can we in the developed world help these types of companies accelerate their growth and impact? Is it even our problem to consider helping people in foreign countries? Shouldn’t we worry about all the problems we have in our own country?
I will admit that I don’t have the answers to these types of questions. But I think about them a lot. I think the best thing I can do for now is raise awareness of these issues and get other people thinking about them also, and that’s why I wrote this post.
What do you think?
Did you know there was a 3 year drought in Africa causing starvation to 30 million people?
Do you think entrepreneurs are a more effective way to solve problems than charity?
Do you help support anyone in a foreign country through Charity (Children International or Imagine Missions) or loans (kiva.org).
Do you think we should intervene militarily to displace bad governments or should we let people solve their own problems?