Feeding their greed
SO they pay $1,000,000 to make commercials of starving kids around the world, why don't they use that money to feed them?" That was a stray tweet last week amplifying the contradictions in the global approach to fighting hunger and disease. The situation appears netting an emergency now. Managing Director, Upper Niger River Basin Development Authority (UNRBDA), Professor Paul Shaba Marley also last week warned that flood and its associated destructive tendencies posed a potent threat to national food security.
The United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) in a report calls the world's attention to the fact that of the 925million people ravaged by hunger all over the world, 239 million are in sub-sahara Africa. Even then, as you read this, the Stop The Hunger Project says that there are at least 9,901 people who will die today of hunger and, so far this year, 8,159,425 people have died of hunger - and the figure continues to go up every minute. Indeed, the WFP puts it very alarmingly that " hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined" and that there are more hungry people in the world today than the combined populations of the United States, Canada and the European Union.
Again, UNICEF in its 2009 State of the World Children revealed that "inherited hunger" from parents accounted for up to 17 million children born underweight annually while sixty per cent of the 10.9 million children under five who died each year in developing countries died of hunger related diseases.
Perhaps because we live in a world of contradictions, we read bizarre statistics of 36 out of 40 poorest and hungriest nations winning the trophy of being net exporters of food to rich countries while 78 per cent of malnourished children live in countries with food surpluses. More interesting is the fact that while the world battles hunger and malnutrition with the US contributing, on average, $1.8m to global food aid daily, it spends $16m on food for pets (domestic animals) everyday and on daily basis about $154m to tackle obesity related diseases. While all these go on in the US, millions in sub sahara Africa reel in pangs of hunger which their governments would rather address by organising senseless seminars and workshops and strange agricultural programmes which directly serve to fatten the bank accounts of policy makers.
A United Nations' report some days ago revealed that rich countries were cutting aids to needy nations as part of protectionist steps to tackle their own nagging economic problems. The report indeed warned that stopping aids to hungry countries would exacerbate the problem. "Rich people may try to live behind fortress walls in their countries, and rich countries may try to erect fortress protections against the foreign poor. They would be all fooling themselves in our highly globalised world," the report warned. But can you really blame the rich countries after seeing that in poor Nigeria, for instance, private jets have become "pure water" purchased by any fool, smart enough to know how to steal oil, store and sell? Can you blame them after reading that “one of the (African) countries that depend on foreign assistance for 80 per cent of its revenue," was in New York last week to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting with "an entourage of 44 people, including traditional chiefs.”
You will want to ask what the "foreign poor" themselves have done to help themselves. What? We would rather spend billions on bogus agricultural programmes with 80 per cent of the budget going to fund programme vehicles, talk-shops and - election campaigns. A friend called my attention to a Nigerian South West state that he claimed had spent over a billion naira on an ambitious, much hyped agric programme in the last few years with a harvest value of less than N50,000! And you want to ask what the problem is? Is it incompetence, is it insincerity or is it sabotage, or all?
As Nigerians, it will be such a great exercise if we can all chalk up the amount our governments have expended on capacity building seminars and workshops and sensitisation exercises on food production, fight against hunger etc. The whole result will shock us to the realisation that our nation can't be cured of its illnesses and its hunger because what we are treating are not these but the individual greed of privileged people who run our affairs.
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