World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Africa Cannot Develop, Prosper On Empty Stomach

Annan: “Africa Cannot Develop, Prosper, Or Be Truly Free On An Empty Stomach”

New York, Aug 29 2005 5:00PM

After returning from a visit to drought-stricken, locust-devastated Niger struggling to recover from urgent malnutrition United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for better early warning about potential emergencies, more focus on prevention, the strengthening of regional institutions and a “look in the mirror instead of pointing fingers.”

In an opinion piece carried in the Financial Times and Le Monde newspapers, Mr. Annan also called for help for some 20 million Africans who are at risk of similar severe hunger and food insecurity..

“One of the proposals I have put before next month's World Summit calls for a 10-fold increase in the UN's Emergency Fund, which would enable UN agencies to jump-start relief operations,” allowing Governments, the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to take adequate preparatory measures and deploy personnel with greater speed, he said.

The summit of more than 170 heads of State and Government will meet from 14 to16 September at UN Headquarters to discuss UN reform and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of targets designed to halve or eliminate a host of socioeconomic ills.

Niger is grappling with a devastating array of challenges, including hunger, prolonged drought, accelerating desertification, locust infestation and regional market failures, but the Government and civil society groups have mobilized to help those most in need, Mr. Anna said. “I saw profound suffering in Niger, but I also saw signs that the country can come through this crisis, with lessons for all of us.”

The UN started raising the alarm about Niger and appealing for resources last November.

Mr. Annan said that in the Sahel, desertification and environmental degradation rob people of arable land and drinking water, thereby increasing their vulnerability to food shortages, and when a drought followed last year's massive swarm of locusts, the people were pushed beyond the brink.

“Niger's struggle has belatedly galvanized international action. But a similar scenario of severe hunger and widespread food insecurity could still engulf some 20 million people in other areas of the Sahel, southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and southern Africa. If the world acts now, this need not happen,” he said.

Some of the international community's early analyses failed to distinguish between a poor country striving to meet its people's needs and the drastic emergency that the situation in Niger became, thereby providing prescriptions that did not reflect the urgency of the circumstances, Mr. Annan said.

According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), one in three Africans is malnourished, he said. Every year, hundreds of thousands of African children die from preventable causes, most related to malnutrition and hunger. “Human activities, poverty and nature are part of this lethal picture,” he said.

Prevention is less expensive than cure, Mr. Annan said, recommending debt relief, increased aid and trade regimes more favourable to the poor, as well as increased use of irrigated agriculture to reduce dependence on irregular rains.

“More generally, we need to draw on scientific advances and experience in Asia and elsewhere in order to trigger a green revolution in Africa,” he said.

Both the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), addressing West Africa’s humanitarian and security challenges, and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), offering a framework for bilateral and multilateral cooperation, deserve increased international support, Mr. Annan said.

Meanwhile, Governments in the region, international financial institutions (IFIs), donors and aid groups shared responsibility for the crisis. “Each of us, in our own way, was too slow to understand what was happening, get people in place and come up with the necessary resources,” he said.

All must now act to end the scourge of African hunger, Mr. Annan added. “Africa cannot develop, prosper, or be truly free on an empty stomach.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN Rights Office On Syria: The “Monstrous Annihilation” Of Eastern Ghouta

Since the Syrian Government and their allies escalated their offensive against opposition-held Eastern Ghouta on 4 February, there have been more than 1,200 civilian casualties, including at least 346 killed and 878 injured, mostly in airstrikes hitting residential areas... Ninety-two of these civilian deaths allegedly occurred in just one 13-hour period on Monday. More>>

ALSO:

Cyclone Gita: 70% Of Tonga Population Affected

The full scale of destruction is beginning to emerge from Tonga in the aftermath of the severe tropical cyclone Gita. Around 50,000 people, or almost 70% of the country’s population, have been affected, a third of whom are children. More>>

ALSO:


Gita: Samoas Clean Up After Being Swamped By Cyclone

Apia in the wake of Gita Photo: Rudy Bartley The clean up is continuing in the two Samoas after Tropical Cyclone Gita hit on Saturday morning. More>>

ALSO:

Grand Coalition : Germany's two main political parties set to govern under Angela Merkel.

The liberal-conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) negotiated through the night in a marathon final push to nail down an agreement. More>>


80 Passengers: Kiribati Ferry Disaster

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are working with the Government of Kiribati to support children, families and communities affected by the recent Butiraoi ferry disaster. More>>

ALSO:

Campbell On: the US demonising of Iran

Satan may not exist, but the Evil One has always been a handy tool for priests and politicians alike. Currently, Iran is the latest bogey conjured up by Washington to (a) justify its foreign policy interventions and (b) distract attention from its foreign policy failures. More

ALSO: