Two scenes from the great African paradox of surplus and shortage – feast and famine – in the same country:
In rural western Kenya, farmer Crispinus Walubengo harvests a bumper crop of maize. He is expecting a half-acre yield greater than the thirteen 90-kilogram bags he reaped last year, which had been his biggest-ever harvest.
In the port of Mombasa, on Kenya’s east coast, a crane offloads thousands of tons of maize imported from Malawi. That maize would soon be heading to drought-ravaged northern and eastern parts of Kenya where hundreds of thousands of people are desperately hungry.
Mzee Sumasuma's Efforts to Adopt New Technologies Pays Off
This posting was originally posted on Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa Website
Songea district, Tanzania
Mzee Sumasuma is a fifty one year old man, with two wives and fifteen children. Like most Tanzanian’s rural dwellers his livelihood has always been based on the agricultural sector, but unfortunately in the past his farm-yields were very low. A chance event two years ago, changed his life and that of his children for good. Mzee Sumasuma was invited to attend a training demonstration session organised by Agricultural Research Institute, Uyole (ARI – Uyole) and supported by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. The training exposed him to a new way of doing agriculture and in his own words has changed his life dramatically.
By Rajiv Shah, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development This commentary was originally posted on USAID Impact Blog
This morning, the United Nations declared what has become plain to anyone who has witnessed the devastation caused by this epic drought: thousands of people in southern Somalia are currently in a state of famine.
After the announcement, I visited the Wajir and Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya. I saw child after child weary from their long journey to the camps, eager for their first meal in days if not weeks. Seeing a child in such a fragile state—witnessing just one child face such difficult circumstances—is heartbreaking. Knowing that millions of children face a similar fate in the coming months unleashes a sense of profound sorrow.
The promises made by the leaders of the rich world in L’Aquila, Italy, two years ago were supposed to stop what is now happening in the Horn of Africa. But those pledges haven’t been kept, and starvation is raging once again.
This week brought a revealing, and tragic, juxtaposition of those facts. On Monday, ONE, an advocacy organization pushing for policies that eliminate hunger and extreme poverty, presented a report that found that donors are falling far short of their L’Aquila commitment to mobilize $22 billion by the end of 2012 to finance agriculture development in the poorest countries. And, ONE noted, it isn’t only the money that is failing; the political will needed to prevent future food crises is also lagging.
As the week moved on, newspapers brought us the manifestations of those failures: pictures of emaciated children in hunger refugee camps in Kenya, where masses of desperate people are gathering as they flee drought and famine in Somalia.
Hunger, once again, in the 21st Century while lofty promises and pious pledges go unfulfilled.
These were the priorities that emerged at my table during a discussion about the role of U.S. universities, government agencies, NGOs, foundations and the African diplomatic community in advancing African development. Representatives from each of these partners had assembled at Michigan State University for a Midwest Summit on African Development. The gathering was sponsored by several universities – Michigan State, Auburn, Iowa State, Ohio State and Wisconsin – the ONE Campaign and The Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa.
The goal: To take advantage of this moment in time when ending hunger and reducing poverty through agriculture development has become a central focus of the U.S. government, a number of African leaders, international development institutions, foundations, universities and a wide front of humanitarian and advocacy agencies. To take advantage by forging new partnerships to spur new ideas and innovation. To move the needle on African agriculture development.
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