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Recession worsens Kenyan famine

The global economic downturn makes more African children go hungry.

 The World Bank estimates that the combination of the food, fuel and financial crises in the last year has pushed another 100 million people into poverty worldwide.

In Africa, far from the fulcrum of the financial crisis, economies are shrinking, meaning less work for people such as Aftin’s father just as the cost of food spirals out of reach.

Remittances sent from relatives abroad, or working in the continent’s mushrooming cities, have reduced dramatically as jobs have been cut. In Kenya the value of remittances has nearly halved meaning rural families have less cash for food, medicine or school fees.

In Kenya tourism has also collapsed leaving workers unemployed and the economy reeling. The terrible violence that followed elections in 2007 put off foreign visitors and then the credit crunch made expensive long-haul holidays beyond the reach of most. The wildlife, beaches and stunning landscape that used to attract over one million visitors each year are still there, but the tourists are not.

The International Monetary Fund expects economic growth in sub-Saharan African countries to fall by at least 2 percent this year as commodity prices plummet and foreign direct investment dries up.

Donor support and aid money is also reducing. Rich donor countries — such as those meeting at this week’s G20 summit in London — are cutting back on their aid to developing nations as they focus on the crisis at home.

The world’s richest countries, represented by the smaller G8 grouping, were already failing to live up to their 2005 pledge to increase development aid by $50 billion a year before the credit crunch struck. There is little chance of them living up to those promises now and the  much-touted Millennium Development Goals to improve lives by 2015 seem further from reach than ever.

Those suffering the most from the global recession are the poor in Africa and other developing countries, says Adrian Lovett, of Save the Children. “Leaders of the richest countries must look beyond their own backyard and understand that the crisis that they have helped create will not only damage livelihoods at home, it will destroy lives in the rest of the world,” says Lovett.

More GlobalPost dispatches from Africa:

Kenya banks on farmers

Muddy ponds may be future for Africa's fishermen 

For more on the global economic crisis:Click here for the full report