Friday, July 30, 2010

Who is to Blame for the Famine in Niger?

There is currently a famine in the African country of Niger that threatens to kill millions of people, but as attention now spotlights the mounting disaster the question still remains, who is to blame for the lack of leadership surrounding food security in Niger and the Sahel region in general?

For starters we can point the finger directly at a hand full of African political leaders that have spent millions of dollars in public resources (financial and technical) on military affairs as part of a NATO-led "war on terror" in the Sahel at the expense of people's needs. In recent years, the militarization of Africa has diverted attention away from the most important on going war in the continent, the war against poverty. For all of the propaganda about the threat of Al-Qaeda to civilian lives in Africa, there has never been and can never be another force more lethal than hunger. The failure of Africa's political leadership to provide for the most basic necessities of people in a continent rich in oil and mineral resources is absolutely criminal. In the 21st century, with all of the numerous technological and scientific advancements available to humanity, it is ridiculous that millions of people can die from a lack of something as fundamental as food.

What is even worse, is that the African Union can mobilize thousands of troops to fight a civil war in Somalia, indiscriminately killing civilians, but Niger is forced to look toward the West to send food aid to those on the verge of starvation. If ever there were a time for real progressive leadership in Africa, now is it.

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