Stories

The ongoing food crisis, which the United Nations described as the worst humanitarian emergency since World War II, has put Africa front and centre in our newsfeeds.

Unfortunately, it often takes extreme and tragic events for the rest of the world to turn its attention to what is happening in the world’s second-largest continent.

High levels of poverty are still experienced by far too many children and families in a number of African countries. But focusing solely on these problems can lead to outdated stereotypes that all children in Africa are “poor kids” living in traditional huts. This is not an accurate reflection – the reality is far more complex, and far more interesting.

So here are a few facts that might just change the way you think about Africa, and it’s place in our global neighbourhood.

Four out of five people in Africa have a mobile phone

It is a common stereotype that children in Africa have no access to modern technology. That’s not true – currently, around 80% have mobile phones.

In Kenya, the statistics are even higher with nine out of ten people owning a mobile phone. But this is still in stark contrast to the fact that one in two houses does not have adequate sanitation and the average school has only one toilet for every 100 children. This can lead to the outbreak of disease, many of which are particularly deadly for young children.

Severe drought, a three-year civil war and economic collapse have resulted in a state of famine being declared in South Sudan. Thirty-eight-year-old Anab, a mother of six, is struggling to keep her family alive.

She is not alone. Over one million people face starvation, including 345,000 children, who have been the hardest hit. Almost five million people require emergency food assistance and people are dying every day of severe acute malnutrition and related illnesses.

For Anab and her children, the situation is life-threatening.

“I have five girls and one boy. My youngest girl, Mary, is just one year old. I cannot get any food for Mary, so I offer her my empty breast,” she says.

“When Mary is too hungry, I boil leaves for her. This helps to keep her belly full.”

“My family moved from our village when the armed militia attacked our home. We ended up in my husband`s family`s village. It is not safe here either. I am afraid for my girls because I’ve heard that the militia kidnap them.”

Anab’s eldest daughter’s education has suffered: “I feel so sad that I cannot go to school. I feel like I cannot ask my parents for school fees, because we don’t even have enough money for food. So I stay at home,” she says.

Anab and her family are at extreme risk of starvation: “We can barely afford food for ourselves. We are already too hungry. Food is our immediate need.”