December 10, 2023

International effort needed to eradicate African poverty

Feet of the black african children on the groundBy Arley Gill From Caribbean360

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, Friday November 14, 2014 – As of November 2nd, 2014, more than 4800 persons have died from the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are the worst affected West African countries. A few cases have surfaced elsewhere, including the USA and Spain.

Health workers – as first responders – are particularly at high risk of being afflicted. This current outbreak of Ebola is only the latest challenge for the Continent of Africa, which has been plagued by the HIV virus, famine, civil wars and the long list continues.

In this latest round of Ebola outbreak, the wealthy and powerful nations only took note when cases started turning up on their shores and the threat extended beyond the boundaries of Africa. When Ebola was confined only to West Africa, the clamour and the calls for additional assistance from the World Health Organization (WHO), Doctors Without Borders, and other agencies working on the ground on the continent, seemingly fell on deaf ears.

It’s a sentiment that has been expressed by Ghanaian diplomat Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary General.

“If the crisis had hit some other region it probably would have been handled very differently. In fact when you look at the evolution of the crisis, the international community really woke up when the disease got to America and Europe,’’ Annan said in an interview in London, England.

To be fair, President Barack Obama provided a bold response to the calls for support and put his “money where his mouth is’’. Britain, too, responded. And Cuba – oh, yes, Cuba, despite the US embargo – has sent hundreds of nurses and doctors to assist.

The role of Cuba is never highlighted by the western media. But, the Spanish-speaking Caribbean nation is contributing more than most; and, considering the economic challenges confronting Cuba, their contribution to the fight against Ebola in Africa is more than anyone else’s.

The question is, however, what happens when the threat of Ebola subsides or it’s no more? We have seen time and time again, from the famine in Ethiopia to the civil war in Rwanda, that when the threats and turmoil are no more, so too is the focus on Africa.

I am of the considered view that the most serious and sustained threat in Africa is poverty. The threat of poverty is more than Ebola, Boko Haram‎, and so on. In fact, the diseases, civil wars, famine and other negatives besieging Africa, are mere symptoms of poverty.

Of course, the leaders in Africa need to take their fair share of blame. The corruption, nepotism and gross mismanagement by some leaders are inexcusable. Their behaviour makes the plight of their people even worse.

However, I proffer that the United Nations and the developed countries are only outing “fires’’ when there is a crisis in Africa. There needs to be a sustained international effort to eradicate poverty in Africa; if not, there will always be crises.

Eradication of poverty will provide greater access to education and healthcare, for instance. Could you imagine that the Ebola virus was spread by persons dealing with dead bodies the traditional way? In one case reported by CNN, some people drank the water from a dead body of a priest who had died from Ebola. They did so because they felt the priest was a good man. Better education will prevent these things from happening.

Poverty is prohibitive to basic education, healthcare‎, housing, food and – generally – the most basic of human needs. The lack of these basic needs leads to unsanitary conditions, which contributes to the outbreak of diseases.

As well, the deprivation of basic needs leads to rebellion and civil disorder. Children are recruited to fight because their parents cannot provide them with any alternative. And, in such cases, what is there to do otherwise?

arley-gill-150x150Poverty is the root cause of social conflicts. Therefore, it is my respectful view that there must be a response to poverty in Africa, the same way there is a response to Ebola.

There must be an intense and sustained effort to eradicate poverty. It must be seen as a threat the same way Ebola is. After all, lives are being lost every day; thousands are being displaced ‎because of these conflicts.

I hold strongly that unless and until African poverty is eradicated there will always be a reoccurrence of crisis on the continent.

Poverty is the real issue on the African Continent.

The views expressed in this column are solely those of Arley Gill. Arley Gill, a lawyer and magistrate, is a former Grenada minister of culture.

IMAGE: Feet of the black African children on the ground

For more on this story go to:


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About ieyenews

Speak Your Mind