Growing up and attending boarding school in Nigeria, I cared very little about the kids my age, who lived
beyond the boundary of the school grounds. I would see them in passing
once every two weeks while going on our customary “Sunday walk,” which
usually lasted about two hours. Though these kids, whose parents were
mainly farmers and traders, weren’t the most desperate, seeing their
condition sometimes triggered some serious soul-searching.
The success of programs like SUN is critical to the development of future generations of African leaders.
Miango, on the outskirts of Jos,
was a rural community I came to love for its scenery and tranquility,
but deep inside I wanted much more for the warm-hearted villagers
outside the school walls. All I was certain of was that the kids did
not get enough to eat, but because I could not put myself in their
shoes, I made of their plight what any kid my age and in my privileged
position would: I believed their circumstance would improve sooner than
later. But it didn’t, and I learned the situation is more desperate in
other parts of the developing world.
Beset with conflict, disease, and famine is that remote corner of earth known as the Horn of Africa, where, in Ethiopia alone,
4.5 million people required emergency food assistance and 300,000
children under the age of five were at risk of becoming severely
malnourished last year. Clearly, these numbers ought to call attention
to the plight of our brothers and sisters in Africa.
In parts of the continent, lack of rain - and, in some cases droughts -
usually have significant ramifications for small-holder farmers in
rural communities. The decimation of livestock and poor harvests, often
caused by factors such as poor agricultural practices and climate
change, results in many women and children suffering from malnutrition.
Thankfully, however, a number of programs geared toward reducing
malnutrition and hunger - especially during the critical 1,000-day
window between a mother’s pregnancy and the child’s second birthday -
are under way.
Ethiopia is one of 27 countries participating in the Scaling Up Nutrition
(SUN) initiative, which is a global response to reducing hunger and
malnutrition. Millions of children around the world rely on initiatives
such as SUN to live to their full potential. As compassionate people,
we have a moral obligation to support programs aimed at uplifting our
most vulnerable brothers and sisters. In a way, their fates rest in our
long-term success of programs such as SUN draws and motivates civil
society and other concerned groups to act in unison. It is the
sustainability and potential of such development-driven programs that
stimulate our political leaders to provide funding for initiatives that
support the most vulnerable people in our world. It is important to
understand that the success of programs like SUN is critical to the
development of future generations of African leaders.
The harmful effects of malnutrition and hunger are well-documented and most evident in Africa’s rural communities. In sub-Saharan Africa,
nearly half of all children under age five are stunted, and more than a
quarter are malnourished. If these numbers do not awaken our conscience
to what ought to be a serious social justice issue, what will?
These numbers ought to call attention to the plight of our brothers and sisters in Africa.
It is the farmers in rural communities such as Miango who
stand to gain the most from investments in nutrition and food security.
Securing adequate funding that will allow for the successful
implementation of agriculture development initiatives is the most
crucial element of country-specific programs. Investments in SUN will
have the following impact: saving lives, enabling children and their
mothers to have a better future, contributing to livelihoods, reducing
poverty, and contributing to the economic growth of nations. To this
end, we must play our part to ensure that programs designed to
guarantee food security to the more than 1 billion malnourished
children in the world are well-funded, managed, and administered.
Together let us give the children of Miango hope for a better future. It is the right thing to do.
BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator, Reginald Egede, grew up in Nigeria. He came to the United States in 2005 to study at the Universityof Southern Indiana,
where he received his undergraduate degree in international relations.
He also has a master’s degree in law and governance from Montclair State University. He is currently serving as an intern in Bread for the World’s New York office, where he works on the Bread initiativeAfrican American Voices for Africa. Click here to contact Mr. Egede and Bread for the World.