Empowering Africa’s humanitarians

Aug 20,2017 – JORDAN TIMES – Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré

The scale of human suffering currently engulfing drought-stricken Somalia is almost indescribable. It is difficult to find words to convey the devastation and misery gripping the country, now in the midst of a prolonged period of record-low rainfall.

I watched emaciated herds of livestock drop, lifeless, into the dust and was present when people’s futures evaporated in front of their eyes.

But if words cannot do justice to the magnitude of the crisis, they can guide the world’s response. And in that regard, let me be unequivocal: unless the international community overhauls its approach to delivering aid in Africa, the cycle of suffering will continue.

Somalia’s current catastrophe is not unique. Millions of Africans, in more than a dozen countries, are facing similar struggles, as failed harvests and persistent conflict fuel severe food insecurity.

By some estimates, East African farmers have lost up to 60 per cent of their livestock — their main source of income — in the first half of 2017.

In the face of such overwhelming hardship, I am more angry than sad.

The world should be angry, too. So many proud and dignified people have been stripped of their livelihoods and forced to rely on one tiny meal a day, or nothing at all. Worse, these tragedies were avoidable; we knew these crises were coming.

Drought and hunger are slow-motion calamities that, with adequate planning and sufficient resources, can be averted. But time and time again, humanitarian assistance in Africa has come up short, as it did in Somalia in 2011 and 2012; in Niger in 2005; and in Ethiopia during the 1980s.

Then, as now, food insecurity was predicted long before the first hunger pangs were felt. But the warnings did not yield an effective global response.

As a medical doctor, I am acutely aware of how hunger, malnutrition, cholera and other drought-related illnesses affect Africans, especially young children and nursing and expectant mothers.

The effects of hunger on physical and mental health can be irreversible, and often keep people locked in a lifetime of poverty.

We must alter this trajectory, before the next crisis strikes, by converting anger into action

read more HERE:   http://jordantimes.com/opinion/fatoumata-nafo-traoré/empowering-africa’s-humanitarians

Categories: Africa

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