Africa’s pledges to the starving exemplaryBy SIPHO MOYO | Tuesday, August 30 2011 at 11:05
African governments and institutions last week pledged nearly $350 million for famine efforts in the Horn of Africa, sending a strong signal that African leaders are stepping up to solve one of the continent’s most pressing problems today.
This means the continent, which collectively ranks as the 10th largest economy, has contributed more to the Horn crisis than China, Japan, Brazil, Italy and Russia, which represent the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th largest economies in the world, respectively (in terms of GDP).
Africa has exceeded all expectations. We are extremely proud, and at this moment, we urge our leaders to keep their word, and turn their pledges into actual contributions.
Lest we forget, African countries in the region are shouldering the physical impact of refugees on local communities and on the environment. The Kenyan and Ethiopian governments have generously opened their borders to Somali refugees who are arriving daily by the thousands, even when it’s beyond their capacity to bear the brunt of this crisis.
Thanks to the AU’s peacekeeping force, AMISOM, both the seaport and airport in Somalia have been secured, making it possible to bring in the much-needed humanitarian supplies.
The AU mission has also brought under control an outbreak of measles and other diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea in a camp for displaced persons.
Other African initiatives and efforts to support the victims of this indignity of famine in the Horn include “Kenyans for Kenyans” where ordinary citizens, contributing as little as Sh10, have so far pooled together more than $8 million, which is expected to reach and possibly exceed $10 million.
Then there is The Gift of Givers, a South African group which loaded 500 tonnes of food to distribute to the hardest-hit in Somalia.
These stories attest to Africans’ generosity of which we should all be proud.
However, as we celebrate the success of the African Union’s pledging conference and its appropriate response to a humanitarian emergency, it is important to remember that a long-term solution is needed to make sure that the indignity of famine never again visits the continent of Africa. Ever.
We must make sure that we end the obscenity of famine once and for all. To this end, we at ONE join in with other African voices to call upon our leaders to reaffirm and accelerate the meeting of their commitments under the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security to spend 10 per cent of their national budgets on agriculture development.
The Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security saw African leaders committing to spend 10 per cent of national budgets on agriculture.
In this declaration made during the Second Ordinary Assembly of the African Union in July 2003, African heads of State and Government reaffirmed the need for ownership of their own development agenda and agreed to achieve 10 per cent within five years.
If our leaders achieve this, not only will this help to prevent future famines, it will also build sustainable economies by helping small farmers build businesses.
In other words, we need not wait for the next pledging conference to address the consequences of a predictable recurring drought problem. The Maputo declaration gives us a fair shot at ending famine on the continent once and for all.
Dr Moyo is Africa’s ONE director based in Johannesburg. She brings 18 years experience from AfDB and the World Bank
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