Case Studies in Africa
Type: Problem & Impacts
First hand account
“If they can escape slaughter, endure rape and survive outbreaks of infectious diseases, the thousands of young people uprooted by ethnic conflict in Sudan’s Darfur province still face food shortages that threaten to stunt forever the physical and intellectual growth of their formative years.”
EL FASHER, Sudan 19 Aug 2004
Darfur is a region in Sudan which has experienced in the last few decades, ongoing conflict resulting in the displacement of millions of people. The main problem in Darfur is the fighting. It is this which prevents proper aid from reaching the neediest areas and continues to be a problem for aid workers. According to BBC News and the African Union approximately one in three people displaced cannot receive aid due to fighting.
The director of health programs for the International Rescue Committee said “We focus on the emergency, but look at the long term… You have malnourished children who will never reach their full physical and mental potential because of this”. This is directly related to children being most affected by lack of vitamins, minerals and proteins which a lack of leads to stunted bone and muscle growth, risk of stroke and early death.
This is a prime example of where the government has let the population down. The individual's opinion and actions are being supplanted by the greater overwhelming power of the sudan government. To rectify this problem, the government needs to be stabalized either through internal or external intervention. Infrastructure for farming and safe distribution channels should be established. These are just suggestions of ways to solve the problem. However, it is often much harder to move beyond a plan and into action.
Agricultural subsidies in Malawi
Year: 2001 – current
Type: Solution / Problem
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world relies primarily on profits from the product and cultivation of maize – Malawi’s staple diet – to provide for it’s economy and general health of the population. Since Malawi does not have the capacity to produce other foods, it relies heavily on its maize production. Food production has been reduced because fertilizer is so expensive. As a result of this the government introduced agricultural subsidies to support its farmers. This enabled many farmers to be able to support their families and buy other types of food. However, due to the nature of farming, if there are natural disasters such as floods and droughts these agricultural subsidies do not provide a security net. This is currently a problem that must be solved by the government.
Because of heavy focus on subsidies farmers have not spent much time looking at alternatives to managing crop in such periods of drought and famine. Malawi produces about 12 million tonnes of maize per year for the sole purpose of feeding the population. It produces only a surplus of 1.5 million tonnes for storage and export. The UN has warned that unless better farming practices regarding fertilizers, irrigation and sustainable water and land development it “will seriously jeopardize their long-term food security, productivity and incomes, while environmental degradation will accelerate”. While maize provides essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, it lacks vital micronutrients and more importantly protein.This allows for a variety of crops to be grown and provide greater nutritional benefit.
There is much to be learnt from what is currently occuring in malawi. While the Malawi government is helping its citizens survive by giving subsidies, it is ignoring more long term issues. If a government is to succesfully help tackle an issue it must find a solution that will help in the long run. Immediate aid will help alleviate the issue now but if we ignore the future, there will be no future left.
Darfur Malnutrition "Rises Again". (2006, April 26). BBC News, africa.
Malnutrition Continues to Threaten Darfur's Children in East Chad. (2004, October 4). Sudan.Retrieved March 15, 2008, from UNICEF Web site: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/sudan_23515.html
Fasher, E. (2004, August 19). Food for Thought: Malnutrition's Insidious Impact on Children. nternational Rescue Committee News, sudan. Retrieved from http://www.theirc.org/news/food_for_thought_malnutrition-s_insidious_impact_on_children.html
Malawi: Subsidizing agriculture is not enough. (2008, February 5). IRIN: humanitarian news and analysis, africa. Retrieved from UN Offi for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Web site: http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=76591
Jha, A. (2008). Malawi. In OneWorld.net. Retrieved March 15, 2008, from http://uk.oneworld.net/guides/malawi/development