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 But focusing solely on these problems can lead to outdated stereotypes that all children in Africa are “poor kids” living in traditional huts.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.
Life is good for 33-year-old Moses Banda.
The father of three runs a grocery stall and works in the food and beverage section at the luxurious Radisson Blu Hotel in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka.
Recently he bought some land in Rufunsa, east of Lusaka city, where he plans to start a farm.
“I plan to go into farming full-time in the next few years,” Moses says.
Life could have easily taken a different path, however. Moses says he’s “very lucky” to have everything he has now.
“I’m what I am today because one person called a sponsor cared enough to ensure that I was healthy and, above all, got the necessary education to enable me to face the future with confidence,” he says.
When he was six years old Moses was enrolled into ChildFund’s sponsorship program. A year later he was sponsored, and his life took a turn.
Growing up in a family with five children and one income – his father worked as a security guard – it was unlikely he or his siblings would go to school.
However, after joining ChildFund’s sponsorship program he found himself among books and classrooms, and envisioning a different future for himself.
“As a result of my sponsorship, my parents never worried about my school requirements as all these were provided by ChildFund,” he says.
“My clothing and shoes were also from ChildFund.”
He threw himself into his studies and was determined to finish grade 12 to get the best chance at life.
After his sponsorship came to an end when he finished grade 10, he began working to pay for his school fees.
“I knew my dad could not afford to pay, and I did not want to stop school, so I paid until I completed grade 12 with the salary I was getting then,” he says.
“I wanted to live a better life than what we had in my father’s house.”