Wednesday, 20 July 2011

What are we doing about the crisis in the Horn of Africa?

Talking up Africa is positive, it is a good thing. However, in doing so we must prevent ourselves from forgetting that as at this minute, millions of our fellow Africans are faced with the threat of starvation in a situation of drought and now famine. And the sad situation in the Horn of Africa is only the latest example of several similar instances on the continent about which we have not shown sufficient concern.

It seems to me that we have become accustomed to the idea that in times of crisis, relief should always come from outside of Africa, whereas we Africans just sit back and wring our hands helplessly.

To my mind, it is the actuality that responsibility for the well-being and welfare of our fellow Africans falls on us primarily, and starting with our governments, our response to this current crisis has been lacklustre to say the least. Its almost as if we are not even aware of the duty that we owe to our own continent. Just saying..

Note: For completeness, you may want to take a look at this African Union (AU) press release informing of the approval by the AU Special Emergency Assistance Fund for Drought and Famine in Africa, of emergency relief assistance to Somalia. The press release goes on to state that relief funds are depleted due to failure by member states to make their voluntary contributions.

Hereunder is the link to a post on this blog concerning this issue from 12 October 2009. The warning was not heeded.

Postscript: In updating myself on this matter I found this blog. Clearly, the sensible actions of the Ethiopian government in preparation for the crisis, has meant that the effects of the drought on Ethiopia have been substantially less severe than they have been in Kenya, whose government can fairly be accused of gross negligence. Somalia is a different story, since there is no government to speak of in that country, capable of organising anything as complex as would be necessary in these circumstances..


Mimi said...

Well, what are you proposing? Rather than complaining about our complacency, do you have solid suggestions about something you think we should do? Something other than giving money to oxfam?

CodLiverOil said...

When these droughts were reported around 30 years or more ago. I was in boarding school in England, and I was made to feel bad about the pictures of starving Africans on tv, hands outstretched waiting for outsiders (namely Europeans) to save them from themselves.

I was hoping that in the intervening 2 decades the OAU,or AU (African Union), would have had enough sense to band together to formulate some sort of agricultural policy that will allow the AU to cater for the people on the continent in times of dire need. Unfortunately, lessons have not been learned and Africa is as vulnerable now as in the days of Mr Bob Geldof, who was urging music fans to save Africa.

Why can't Africa take agriculture seriously? Why can't regional food stores in each of the various sub regions be established with the aim, of providing food to those regions that are facing drought.

Shame on Kenya, Kenya is suffering from "Nigerian syndrome". Always shouting loudly from the rooftops, to be the largest and most powerful economy in East Africa (which they are [ they say their economy is as large as all the other East AFrican economies combined], but they too have been affected by drought (One tenth of Kenyans in the Wajir region are facing hunger (not Somali refugees). How can this be? They do not have the excuse of Somalia, who have been pre-occupied with self-destruction for 2 decades. No doubt Kenya is a wealthy country, why can't they adopt strategies to make people in the drought prone regions less vulnerable to climatic variation? I have met Kenyans who are educated and dynamic. They have fibre optic cable linking East Africa with the rest of the internet. Kenya is the hub of this operation.

Why don't they do something about combating drought once and for all, if they can afford to export roses to Europe by plane, why not adopt strategies to make the occurrence and drought and starvation less frequent. Do we ever hear of Egyptians starving? More of Egypt is a desert than is Kenya.

Nigeria is no better than Kenya, the only fig leaf that is covering the shear corruption and incompetence that is all to apparent in the "ministry of agriculture", are the oil revenues that are used to import food that could be and should be grown in Nigeria. Which means a big chance is being blown by Nigeria, and yet are educated "middle classes", sit quietly and say nothing. When the oil runs out and we have more mouths to feed, what then?

I can conclude blackman and Africans in general have some serious organisational issues to deal with.

The taunts from school, about Africa's relation to Europe and the outside world, still appear true. Shame on Africa!!!!

CodLiverOil said...

It seems Kenya is suffering from many of the same symptoms as Nigeria, ie chronically poor leadership.

What do you think about my idea of the AU, developing a network of food stores throughout the continent? So in the event of hunger, those nations that have a surplus can donate to their needier neighbours. It's not impossible, you just need some committed bureaucrats and some far-sighted technocrats. But the way things are, in the another 20 years, one part of the continent or another will still be sending their citizens in front of foreign media to beg for food. This is the sad state of African leadership.

Anengiyefa said...

A friend in Kenya was telling me that Kenyan government officials corruptly sold grain stores to South Sudan, for personal profit, occasioning a grain/food shortage within Kenya. And this is even before we start talking about the drought, or the lack of preparation for it..

The victims of the drought aside, the majority of the inhabitants of Nairobi, Kenya's capital, are slum dwellers. The slum of Kibera, which incidentally is a very short distance from the seat of government and Nairobi's central business district, has held the distinction of being the "Africa's largest slum" for decades. Conditions in Kibera are extremely squalid and to make matters worse, much of the slum falls within the Parliamentary constituency of Langata, of which the country's Deputy Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, is the parliamentary representative. Unemployment is prevalent and crime rates are astronomical. In Kibera, foreign aid agencies operate, (right under the noses of the Kenyan government and Nairobi municipal authority), bringing what relief they can to the slum's unfortunate inhabitants. And Kibera is just one of the several slum areas in Nairobi.

So this is a stark illustration of the fact that the Kenya government is clearly unaware of its responsibility towards the country's people, the only alternative explanation being that the government callously refuses to perform its duty towards them. Just as in Nigeria, the condition of the ordinary citizen is irrelevant and of no interest to their government. It does not surprise me then, that this government thought nothing of the fact that hundreds of thousands of the country's citizens were in danger of suffering from drought and did nothing to prevent this suffering, despite the extensive warnings that were given well in advance.

Mimi said...

Well here's one person who is taking it in their own hands...

Anengiyefa said...

Yes Mimi, I saw that. Amazing what an 11 year old child can see that our leaders apparently cannot, eh..?

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