All Articles Tagged "aid"
By Steven Barboza
Africa, the second largest continent, is in a fix. It is rich in natural resources. It has a relatively young population, but fifty years after it shook off the last colonialist, it is up to its neck in aid. It still has big problems stemming from a failure of governance, and it has the world’s poorest people.
African philanthropists are working to clean up the mess, using hundreds of millions of dollars of their own money to transform Africa both socially and economically. Some want to develop Africa’s fledgling markets. Others want to strengthen the private sector and work with government agencies to develop business-friendly policies. One wants to use African businesses as a world-class entrepreneurial training ground. If African government leaders play along, economic transformation could ensue.
One African business leader, Tony O. Elumelu, is fond of saying, “Nobody is going to develop Africa except us.” It is his way of saying Africans must control Africa’s financial future — and thus reap Africa’s financial rewards.
“Africa is brimming with talent and innovation, and the continent’s growth and development can best be achieved through private sector investing that creates economic prosperity and social wealth. Africa’s political leaders must urgently focus on creating the enabling environment for business to flourish.”
Elumelu has put his money where his mouth is. The former bank CEO, who is credited for having modernized West African banking, established a foundation (named for him) that seeks to drive Africa’s economic growth from within. The foundation, based in Nigeria, makes what he calls “impact investments” with an aim to turn a profit while focusing on social and environmental problems. Elumelu believes impact investing is a much more sustainable means of capitalization than direct grants because of the entrepreneurial rigor needed to produce a financial return.
The foundation’s inaugural impact investment went to a farm-livestock business in southern Tanzania, Mtanga Farms. The 2,200 hectare operation that will use the grant to launch a seed potato industry, which will produce new varieties of potatoes in the region, benefiting 125,000 farmers. The deal is the first cross-border impact investment in Africa.
Mayor Bloomberg has announced plans for a far-reaching program in New York City that will address persistent poverty, incarceration and unemployment among young black and Latino men. The programs, which will target this group starting in middle school, will be funded in part by $30 million from Bloomberg’s foundation and a matching grant from billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros. The remainder of the $130 million budget will be derived from city revenues.
Bloomberg is taking an aggressive stance against the pattern of failure in government agencies and schools to prepare young men of color for successful participation in public life. Through overhauling a host of agencies that until now have let these men slip into society’s margins, the mayor hopes to improve the lives of about 315,000 who typically go undereducated — ending up in a recurrent relationship with the prison system. The New York Times notes the detail of this revolutionary operation:
Starting this fall, the administration said it would place job-recruitment centers in public-housing complexes where many young black and Latino men live, retrain probation officers in an effort to reduce recidivism, establish new fatherhood classes and assess schools on the academic progress of male black and Latino students.
Mr. Bloomberg plans to announce the three-year program in a speech on Thursday morning in Manhattan, in which he will declare that “blacks and Latinos are not fully sharing in the promise of American freedom.”
Even as crime has fallen and graduation rates have risen in New York over the past decade, city officials said that black and Latino men, especially those between ages 16 and 24, remained in crisis by nearly every measure, including rates of arrest, school suspension and poverty.
The plan aims to go to young black and Latino men where they are by installing offices in centers where they normally receive free services. In addition, simple measures like encouraging them to get a driver’s license or state I.D. upon high school graduation will greatly increase their ability to apply for jobs. In a dramatic measure, schools will now be judged based on how well black and Latino men are educated. Failures to serve them could lead to school closings.
Participants in remedial studies will receive internships paying $7.25 an hour as an incentive to gain new skills. In addition, 900 mentors — many who were once troubled youths — will also be paid to inspire these young people to strive. Some believe the mayor could face resistance to funds being used to support such a specific sector of the population, with very little overt benefit to anyone else.
But there is a long-term benefit.
Did you know that 800,000 children are in danger of dying of starvation in the coming weeks if aid is not delivered to the Horn of Africa immediately? If you didn’t, it’s not your fault. The famine destroying the lives of east Africans is just now making it into the mainstream papers. Our nation’s media has been so focused on the debt ceiling debacle and the phone hacking scandal that pleas by aid organizations for funds have gone unheard. In fact, only one American news organization, ABC News, has a journalist on the ground in the area — now dubbed the Triangle of Death by aid workers stunned by the catastrophic suffering. Yahoo News reports:
ABC claims that it is the only American news network to have a reporter in Mogadishu, Somalia—the epicenter of Africa’s deadly and increasingly violent famine.
But that may soon change.
On Monday, the New York Times ran a heartbreakingly powerful image taken by photographer Tyler Hicks of a starving Somalian child on its cover, above-the-fold.
Until now, the media—the Times included—has been distracted by phone hacking and debt ceiling coverage to focus on the crisis there.
“The famine in Africa has had to compete with the wrangling over the debt ceiling, the mobile phone hacking scandals in Britain, the killings in Norway and, in Africa itself, the birth of a new country, the Republic of South Sudan,” Stephanie Strom writes.
Aid workers have been warning the international community for some time that the ongoing war in the region combined with a worsening drought were destined to cause the massive food crisis now affecting 12 million individuals. It is a pathetic excuse to blame events of recent weeks for letting what some have called a man-made disaster progress to the point of costing almost one million innocent lives.
But more important than placing blame is focusing on what we can do now.
Organizations like British relief group Oxfam are stressing more than ever the urgent need for the public to donate funds — and for governments to follow through on their pledges. In addition, experts have underscored that organizations like the U.N. must work with local groups on the strategic delivery of support in war torn areas to side-step violent rebels.
It is unclear whether those seeking to ameliorate the devastation are being heard. Despite continuing requests for action, governments have been delayed in responding to the suffering bringing millions the brink of extinction.
In one startling example, The Washington Post revealed that recently “a donor conference [hosted by the African Union] to raise money for Somalia famine victims has been postponed for at least two weeks.” The reason for the postponement? Poor planning.
The region has suffered enough from the poor planning of world leaders, who keep pushing preventing the imminent deaths of millions to the bottom of their to-do lists. Many children in Somalia and Kenya do not have two weeks to live. The time is literally now or never, as the U.N. reports that the under-five death rate in Kenya is sharply rising.
In the midst of addressing our debt ceiling debate, President Obama admitted that this tragedy “hasn’t gotten as much attention here in the United States as it deserves.” If the American news media is culpable for failing to provide the necessary awareness, it is more important than ever for concerned citizens to make a grass roots efforts to assist the starving.
The New York Times has (finally) created a list of organizations working to provide aid to the Horn of Africa. It is important for us all to use this list to give what we can, in addition to pressuring world leaders to work intelligently to protect aid workers and refugees traveling through dangerous territories.
Rape is among the many dangers faced by Somalian women walking to refugee camps through areas studded with militants, and living on the outskirts of camps out of fear for their safety within them. The hell people are going through there is evident. The innocent are oppressed from all sides. Our insensitivity to their pain must end, regardless of the slow movements of those in power.
You have the power now to make a difference. Donate money, send emails to elected officials. Through our collective action, we might be able to prevent further calamity.
East Africa is reeling under the effects of a devastating famine, which could lead to the immediate deaths of 800,000 children from starvation due to a confluence of destructive forces. Overall, 11 million people in the region are threatened by what experts agree is the world’s worst food crisis in 50 years. In a triangular area called the Horn of Africa, crops and animals are dying due to a persistent drought that has strangled the ability of its nation’s farmers to produce food. Compounding the pain is an ongoing war in southern Somalia, whose militant factions are blocking aid groups seeking to transport food to the suffering.
The countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Eritea are among the most profoundly ravaged in what some aid workers are now calling the “Triangle of Death.” These workers have witnessed hundreds of thousands crawl into camps, many to eat their first nutritious meals in months. The facilities are dirty, over-crowded, and lacking in the infrastructure needed to sustain masses of refugees. Yet, these meccas of hope are famine victims’ only oasis. The Week describes their circumstances:
Hundreds of thousands of displaced people have turned refugee camps into teeming cities without medical aid, sanitation, or water — and these refugees are the ones lucky enough to have survived the arduous trek to a camp. The largest of these, the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, has a population approaching 400,000. “It’s almost as if they have been abandoned by humanity,” says Azad Essa, as quoted by NPR.
America has promised “an additional $28 million” on top of “$431 million in food and non-food emergency aid already pledged,” The Week continues. This complements the $230 million promised by the European Union. But while the U.N. is actively working to funnel support to the starving, until warfare in the region abates, delivering enough aid might prove impossible.
Despite this barrier, efforts to collect funds are springing up across the globe. Elizabeth Flock of The Washington Post informs us that you can help “by texting ‘FOOD’ to UNICEF (864233) to donate $10.” This will feed a child for ten days.
Writer Maryan Qasim adds on this crisis — that could have been averted:
What is needed right now is for the international community to act immediately to save the millions who are starving. Food, water, medicine and shelter are all urgently needed. Aid needs to be delivered strategically to minimise the distance people are travelling in search of food and water. It is also vital that the UN and international NGOs work closely with the Somali diaspora NGOs, the locals and the transitional government, as it’s Somalis who know the people, the culture, the country and the region.
I hope world leaders are listening and finally take swift action.
I just sent my text. Have you?
(CNNMoney.com) — On Sunday, the House is set to vote on an historic overhaul of the nation’s health care system. It will also take up an issue that will get far less attention but could affect the wallets of millions of Americans.
The nation’s popular Pell grant program, which provides federal grants to millions of Americans based on financial need, is facing a $19 billion budget gap.