Newsire: Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel: “Child Hunger Must Be Priority in Africa”

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Photo: Graca Machel

Economic growth in Africa has been impressive, but a sad reality remains: However prosperous, the results have had little impact on child nutrition.
Graca Machel, the widow of former South African President and Freedom Fighter Nelson Mandela, said hunger is the “most acute problem facing Africa’s children.”
“Around 60 million children across the continent suffer from it. Not the mildly uncomfortable hunger that comes from skipping the odd meal, but permanent, relentless malnourishment, stunting and wasting,” said H.E. Machel, a child rights campaigner who chairs the Africa Child Policy Forum’s international board.
[Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation].
As of two years ago, 28 African nations depended on food aid, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – or FAO.
One of the worst hunger crises of the past 25 years was the famine in East Africa in 2011/12, according to the FAO.
In war-torn Somalia, 260,000 people starved to death, including 133,000 children under the age of five.
Sub-Saharan Africa is also a hotbed of chronic hunger due to extreme poverty, the FAO said.
The organization notes the definition of chronic hunger: people suffer from chronic hunger if their daily energy intake for an extended period of time is below what they would need for a healthy and active life.
The lower limit is an average of 1,800 calories per day.
According to this measure, 226.7 million people are starving in Africa.
The countries most affected by extreme poverty and hunger in Africa are mainly those located south of the Sahara.
One in four people suffers from hunger there – which means that the share of the world’s hungry is highest in sub-Saharan Africa, the FAO said.
In the sub-Saharan region, 40 percent to 50 percent of people live below the poverty line, meaning they have a daily income that is on average below $1.25.
This means that sub-Saharan Africa, along with southern Asia, is one of the poorest regions in the world.
H.E. Machel said it doesn’t have to be this way.
“As African governments decide where to spend their money, they must remember that here is a powerful economic argument for reducing child hunger,” H.E. Machel wrote in an editorial for Financial Times.
“For every dollar invested in reducing stunting, there is a return of about $22 in Chad, $21 in Senegal and $17 in Niger and Uganda,” she said.
The benefits are even higher if the investment is made early in a child’s life, ranging from $85 in Nigeria to $60 in Kenya.
Halving rates of child stunting by 2025 could lead to average annual savings ranging from $3 million in Swaziland to $376 million in Ethiopia, according to FAO.
“Africa’s economic growth over the past two decades has been impressive, but it has had little impact on child hunger,” H.E. Machel said.
“Despite average 2 percent annual Gross Domestic Product growth in Kenya, stunting increased by 2.5 percent. And in Nigeria, 4 percent average annual growth did not lead to any reduction in stunting at all,” she said.
Child hunger is fundamentally a political problem, the offspring of an unholy alliance of political indifference, unaccountable governance and economic mismanagement, H.E. Machel concluded, noting that the continent’s food system is broken.
“Increased food production has not resulted in better diets … supply chains are unfit for serving rapidly expanding urban populations and the rural poor,” H.E. Machel said.
“Agricultural economic growth targets encourage the production of major cereal crops – often for export – instead of more nutritious foods like pulses, fruit and vegetables,” she said.

Celebrate ‘Nelson Mandela International Day’ with service and volunteerism

 

Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela's wife speak with  students

Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela’s wife speaks
with students

Jul 11, 2016 (GIN) – “Nelson Mandela International Day” – formalized by the U.N. General Assembly in November 2009 – recalls the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom on his birthday – July 18. It comes as Americans reflect on a wrenching week of race-related violence and the undeniable evidence of the persistence of intolerance that Mandela devoted his life to oppose.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation promotes acts of service to humanity on that day in his honor.
In December 2015, the General Assembly extended the scope of Nelson Mandela International Day to raise awareness about persons in detention and to call for humane treatment of the incarcerated.
In South Africa, the 7th annual Bikers for Mandela Day will take the call for service to remote areas.
“We have crossed over 12 000 kilometers since the inception of this initiative in 2010 and assisted over 20 charitable organizations through Bikers for Mandela day.  We look forward to paying tribute to Madiba’s unwavering legacy once again.  We believe that every small action of goodwill leads to a larger movement in the right direction,” said organizer Zelda la Grange, formerly Madiba’s personal secretary.
In 2015, UN staff volunteers in New York, partnered with GreenThumb, East New York Farms, and the UN Food Garden, to plant seedlings, pull weeds, and water plant beds in community gardens across the city.
In Geneva, the Permanent Mission of South Africa and Serve the City Geneva have mobilized volunteers to help the poor and marginalized in the city.
Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, speaking to students this month at the Dr Mathole Motshekga Primary School in Tembisa, said: “Mandela Day gives us a way to energize our collective commitment, and it helps to know you are not doing this alone – there are millions of us. This helps build the movement of doing something good for someone else, selflessly caring for others, and remind ourselves that we belong to a global, human family.”
Also in South Africa, RACE (against time), a song against racism written and co-produced by Katlego Maboe, David Harmse and Ntokozo Mkhize will raise money for Anti-Racism Network South Africa (ARNSA).
Developed by The Nelson Mandela and Ahmed Kathrada Foundations, it takes a thoughtful look at the roots of racism. Maboe explains the title of the single: “There is a deliberate play on words. The issue of race is a matter of urgency for all of us and we all stand to lose and suffer the consequences if we don’t solve the problem in time.”
For more about the single, go to www.mitracks.fm/preorder/race-against-time