World News and Trends: Famine stalks Africa

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Famine stalks Africa

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To put the numbers in perspective the Los Angeles Times reports: "Every year about six million children under the age of 5 die as a result of hunger and malnutrition, says a UN study . . . That's as if all of California's children in that age group—more than twice over—starved to death."

This increase in world hunger is primarily because of a combination of wars, droughts, floods and governmental corruption and mismanagement, the latter of which has in turn led to a shortfall in donations from wealthy nations. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) puts the number of undernourished people at 840 million —roughly 15 percent of the world's people. "After some progress in the 1990s, the rate has returned to levels of a decade ago" (Los Angeles Times).

The Independent on Sunday's environment editor, Geoffrey Lean, further explained that "this year's total world harvest will fall for the fifth year in succession, while the global population continues to grow."

More specifically, famine has returned to Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Nearly 6 million people are in desperate need of food supplies to avert starvation. Perhaps another million require immediate help in Eritrea. Also, Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Zimbabwe and other African nations are experiencing severe food shortages.

Lesotho is another case in point. Too much rain devastated crops in that country, so people are dying there. Mountainous roads are a barrier to getting aid supplies through to the population. A London Times feature article stated that "crop production has declined sharply over the past three decades and is expected to cease altogether over large swaths of arable land because of soil erosion and declining soil fertility." A 31 percent HIV-AIDS infection rate complicates matters further.

The book of Revelation records the devastation wrought by the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, one of which symbolizes hunger and famine (6:5-6). It appears to already be riding in Africa. (Sources: The Independent on Sunday, The Times [both London], Los Angeles Times.)