Ihsan

Friday, March 11, 2005

Commission for Africa’s report


Published 11 March 2005

Xamul aay na, laajtewul a ko raw.
Not to know is bad. Not to wish to know is worse.
Igbo Proverb

Batta li a ifi ise agoura li arin egun.
With shoes, one can walk on thorns
Yoruba Proverb

The world is awash with wealth, and on a scale which has never been seen before in human history. Unlike the opulence of the past, which belonged to a handful of privileged individuals and elites, this wealth is shared by unprecedented numbers of ordinary people across the planet. Growth and globalisation have brought higher living standards to billions of men and women.

Yet it is not a wealth which everyone enjoys. In Africa millions of people live each day in abject poverty and squalor. Children are hungry, their bodies stunted and deformed by malnutrition. They cannot read or write. They are needlessly ill. They have to drink dirty water. Those living in Africa’s mushrooming shanty towns live by stinking rubbish tips and breathe polluted air.

We live in a world where new medicines and medical techniques have eradicated many of the diseases and ailments which plagued the rich world. Yet in Africa some four million children under the age of five die each year, two-thirds of them from illnesses which cost very little to treat: malaria is the biggest single killer of African children, and half those deaths could be avoided if their parents had access to diagnosis and drugs that cost not much more than US$1 a dose.

We live in a world where scientists can map the human genome and have developed the technology even to clone a human being. Yet in Africa we allow more than 250,000 women to die each year from complications in pregnancy or childbirth. We live in a world where the internet in the blink of an eye can transfer more information than any human brain could hold. Yet in Africa each day some 40 million children are not able to go school.

We live in a world which, faced by one of the most devastating diseases ever seen, AIDS, has developed the anti-retroviral drugs to control its advance. Yet in Africa, where 25 million people are infected, those drugs are not made generally available. That means two million people will die of AIDS this year. In Zambia, by 2010 every third child will be an orphan.

We live in a world where rich nations spend as much as the entire income of all the people in Africa subsidising the unnecessary production of unwanted food – to the tune of almost US$1 billion a day. While in Africa hunger is a key factor in more deaths than all the continent’s infectious diseases put together.

We live in a world where every cow in Europe has received almost US$2 a day in subsidies – double, grotesquely, the average income in Africa. And Japanese cows nearly US$4. The contrast between the lives led by those who live in rich countries and poor people in Africa is the greatest scandal of our age. To convey the enormity of that injustice we speak in millions – and yet we have to remember that behind each statistic lies a child who is precious and loved. Every day that child, and thousands like her, will struggle for breath – and for life – and tragically and painfully lose that fight.

Globalisation must also mean justice on a global scale. The people of the world have an instinctive urge to help those in distress. The response to the tsunami which devastated the rim of the Indian Ocean showed that. More than 300,000 died when the most devastating earthquake of modern times sent a gigantic wave across the seas, destroying everything in its path when it hit the shore. It was an event of peculiarly dramatic horror and the people of the world reacted with spontaneous donations of cash on a scale which had never before been seen.

There is a tsunami every month in Africa. But its deadly tide of disease and hunger steals silently and secretly across the continent. It is not dramatic, and it rarely makes the television news. Its victims die quietly, out of sight, hidden in their pitiful homes. But they perish in the same numbers.

The eyes of the world may be averted from their routine suffering, but the eyes of history are upon us. In years to come, future generations will look back, and wonder how could our world have known and failed to act?

Continue reading the rest of this section of the report

7 comment(s):

  • Yakoub,

    Africa in many ways still remains a dark continent. The problems are primarily with with lack of healthcare, lack of education, and lack of infrastructure without which other issues cannot be resolved. The wars, famine and the prevailing lawlessness further aggravate the problems. Perhaps Br. Naeem can offer more insight into the issues.

    Acknowledging and identifying the problems is the first step towards resolution. But it is more complex than just wishing someone do something. Everyone who reads your post will have the same feeling.

    But that will not the solution. The solution requires tangible actions, allocation of resources and execution of remedial plans.

    Now my question is, what can an individual do? Charity or Zakat alone will not solve Africa's problems.


    By Blogger Jafar, at 3/11/2005 08:29:00 AM  

  • Salaams

    I think there is a lot that people on here can do.

    I live in a democracy. I don't have to write to my MP - Blair backs this plan 100%. But will Bush? Be that mosquito in the locked room. Write to Bush. Write to your elected representative. Phone him or her, if you can, or fax them. Tell everyone you know to do the same.

    This report is exceptional. It was written by a range of people, including many Africans, with a range of interests - including the former Director of a leading fair trade organisation and a former senior member of the IMF. It looked at a lot of evidence, and it has made detailed and practical recommendations on how to get things done.

    So let's help. Never mind moaning. This is the report on the table. This is the one going to the G8 and the EU. It's a practical mandate to save lives and create a self-sufficient, sustainable continent. It IS radical. It says cancel debt. It says cancel major US and EU tariffs and subsidies. It says Africa needs aid that will of long term benefit for all, including infrastructure.

    Now do something positive.

    Wasalaam

    Yakoub


    By Blogger Julaybib, at 3/11/2005 11:36:00 AM  

  • I'd like to see a section put up here where those of us in various countries have access to the contact info (emails, addresses, fax numbers) of ambassadors, govt leaders, congress or parliament members of our respective localities.

    Coordinate this with petition online perhaps, email campaigns, etc.

    This would be a minor, though I hope helpful way we can do something? The issue was brought up at Hu as well, I think it'd be a good thing to collect and put together, along with perhaps a charity/activism section for this site.


    By Blogger Leila M., at 3/11/2005 11:56:00 AM  

  • Salaams

    This is the URL for locating your MP in the UK:

    http://www.locata.co.uk/commons/

    Wasalaam


    By Blogger Julaybib, at 3/12/2005 12:17:00 AM  

  • Salaams

    This is the URL for locating your MP in the UK:

    http://www.locata.co.uk/commons/

    Wasalaam


    By Blogger Julaybib, at 3/12/2005 12:17:00 AM  

  • Salaams

    This is the URL for locating your MP in the UK:

    http://www.locata.co.uk/commons/

    Wasalaam


    By Blogger Julaybib, at 3/12/2005 12:17:00 AM  

  • Africa sure is a dark continent,
    but it's a good place to get a suntan !


    By Anonymous Antoine Valabregue, at 3/29/2005 02:14:00 AM  

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