As Drought, Famine and Disease Threaten Millions...
Is there Hope for Africa?
EAST AFRICA - With a more concentrated focus on reaching out to those Africans who are starving -- as demonstrated at the G8 Summit held
in Edinburgh, Scotland, this past summer as well as the Live 8
international music concerts -- for the first time, many people are gaining a
new awareness of the poverty, hunger and disease that have gripped the
African continent for far too long. And it is
this awareness that is providing hope that
poverty can be eradicated.
"For decades, charitable organizations such as the Missionaries of Africa have worked to provide clothing, medicine, shelter, education, economic development, pastoral care and other forms of relief for millions of African people in need," notes the Missionaries of Africa's Director of Development, Fr. John Lynch.
"But many people have not understood that tackling hunger is vital to making poverty history."
Echoing Fr. Lynch's statement is a recent report by the World Food Programme, citing that one in three persons in Africa is malnourished. "Hunger in Africa, is both a cause and an effect of poverty," the report continues. "When you take hunger out of poverty, poverty is halved."
"How can our Missionaries train someone for work -- or talk to them about healthy lifestyles and disease prevention," Fr. Lynch continues, "when the person you are talking to or teaching hasn't had a meal in more than a week? They need food first!"
Recent studies suggest that developing countries that focus exclusively on poverty - without paying special attention to hunger - will take a generation longer to make real progress on improving their people's nutrition and health. With this in mind, this year, the Missionaries of Africa --
along with other non-profit organizations -- will work to help feed the more than 26 million victims of food crises brought on by drought, conflict, HIV/AIDS, locust infestations and economic problems throughout Africa.
African men, women, and children in desperate need of food
EAST AFRICA - "Tackling hunger is vital to making poverty history," an international study
explained recently. Yet while overall global poverty dropped by 20 percent during the 1990s, the number of those who are hungry actually rose. As a result, the total number of men, women and children around the world who are malnourished and experiencing substantial hunger is estimated to be more than 850 million.
In seven southern African nations, the number of people in need of emergency food aid this year has risen from 3.5 million to 8.3 million, primarily because of drought that has continued for a number of years. Four million of those suffering are living in Zimbabwe, while 1.6 million are in Malawi; 1.2 million in Zambia; 900,000 in Mozambique; 245,000 in Lesotho; 230,000 in Swaziland; 60,000 in Namibia; 3.5 million in Niger.
Other countries are in desperate need as well. More than eight million people in Ethiopia need food and other assistance so far this year. More than three million of those who are
suffering need emergency food aid because of poor harvests, degraded land, high population growth and losses of crops and livestock.
In Sudan, Africa 's largest country, peace talks on the western region of Darfur resumed earlier this past summer. But despite the halt in hostilities, more than three million people are in urgent need of food relief. In the southern region of the country, areas of malnutrition are appearing after a poor harvest in 2004. With more than 200,000 men, women and children
returning to this section of the country, these regions need emergency assistance now if they are going to survive.
Other areas of concern include much of Central Africa (including the Democratic Republic of the Congo) where nearly three million people have been affected by locust invasions and drought.
"We have missionaries and lay volunteers working in inner city areas as well as in rural missions and in the bush throughout Africa," explains Fr. John Lynch. Fr. Lynch is the Director of Development for the Missionaries of Africa's Washington, DC, office. "In each of those
locations, hunger or food insecurity is an every day concern. The young, school-age children, nursing mothers, the elderly -- all of these groups particularly are threatened by a lack of food. I am praying that people will understand that before we can do much else, we need to
help those who have nothing to eat. It is a primary concern!"