Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Well, At Least The West Talked About Africa

Locusts and drought- so called 'Acts of God' like the tsunami- have caused yet another preventable crisis in Africa. Sadly for the residents of Niger, not enough of them died at once, or spectacularly enough, to get our attention.

World Ignores Niger Food Crisis
"...The Niger government has said it would be "foolish" to distribute free food, as demanded by some 2,000 protesters on Thursday in the capital, Niamey.
More than 3.5m people need food aid after poor rains and a locust invasion, and some accuse the government of ignoring the crisis. But a government spokesman Mohamed Ben Omar said that its food stocks could not be handed out for free..."

"...Mr Egeland said it would have cost $1 a day to prevent children becoming malnourished but it was now costing $80 a day to save a child's life. The UN has now received just a third of the $30m it had asked for, Mr Egeland said. The UN under secretary general for humanitarian affairs also said that beyond immediate food aid, the world should help Niger improve its agricultural methods to avoid future food crises - but this programme had received even fewer pledges. He said the $30m requested for both short - and long-term aid "was nothing"..."

Both the Niger government and the international community are failing people terribly. Where are the mega-churches? Where are the muslim charities so keen to fund madrassas? Where are the self-congratulatory leaders of the G8? Where are the Live 8 performers? Where is the popular outrage; that this horror, this evil of indifference, this national security threat (if we need a selfish motivation) is going unchecked?

In the words of the UN's head emergency aid official Jan Egeland:
"Europeans eat ice cream for $10bn a year and Americans spend $35bn on their pets each year"

I am disgusted and ashamed; I need to set more money aside, and try to do something.


Debbie said...

These are the type of things that make you wish you had lots of power to make the world a better place. So sad.

jamie said...

i was just about to blog about baseball, but i don't think i can quite muster it now.

Debbie - you do have lots of power, it's just that it can be hard to figure out how to direct that power for maximum effect. don't let the lack of grand, immediate results stop you from doing something good. donate money to charity, give blood, put a quarter in a stranger's parking meter, pick up some litter - there are a million things you can do. sorry to sound so "Pay It Forward", but the world needs more action and less resignation.

Listmaker said...

in case you missed this --

Listmaker said...

That got cut off, huh?

Let's try this one instead.

weasel said...

Debbie: Oxfam America.

The other thing I'd advocate is that you raise the issue at your church. I mentioned it to Mrs. Weasel's father (he's a methodist minister) and hopefully he'll bring it up to his congregation.

Jamie: I know what you mean, its hard to not feel shallow. Sometimes I think my head is going to explode when I think about all the crap in the world. I enjoy your baseball writing though, so keep two thoughts in your head; the one that inspires happiness and the one that inspires righteous anger.

weasel said...

Listo, thanks for the link, Monibot had something similar to say in the Guardian. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, right?. Still, now that we have rubbished every effort to help (however misguided) how do we motivate folks? I used to hang out with a bunch of whale researchers up here on the coast and they had identified what they called "the baby seal modifier"; namely to motivate the public to donate you needed a cute stranded seal pup picture; then you could spend the money on the less photogenic and less publicly appealing work of shooting biopsy darts at a 60ft finback whale.

Live 8 was that seal pup ("Look mommy! The only Elton John in captivity! And its trying to mate with that bloke from the Libertines!"); a gimmick designed to act as a focal lens. How good was it? That's beyond me, but the way it was covered here by the traditional media stank.

Debbie said...

Thanks for all the suggestions.
Sometimes the answer is right in front of oyur face.
I will present it to my church and maybe we can have a flea market or something:)

Jim said...

Thank you for doing something that the mainstream media has no time for--talking about real issues--rather than the latest fashions, teen abductions and terror alerts.

Oxfam has done, and continues to do great work. I'll have to put a link up for them. Not only do they provide fish, but they teach people how to fish (self-sufficiency).

Good luck Debbie; it's always good to know there are some followers of Jesus who actually take what he said regarding caring for the "least of these" to heart. You may find, however, that others in your congregation are lacking in your enthusiasm.

As for blogging about baseball? How do we process all the pain, suffering and grief in the world, without some diversion? Balance in everything.

Anyways, as usual, Weasel hits one outta' 'da park!