More than 120 million Africans face starvation because much of the £3 billion ($5.6 billion) in aid spent each year to help them is wasted, according to a report by Care International UK, released in October. The report, Living on the Edge of Emergency: An agenda for change, also says that international aid arrives too late, is aimed at the wrong things, and is usually only a short-term measure that doesn’t tackle the root causes of hunger. As a result, crises are growing in frequency, despite the fact that the amount of aid is increasing.
Aid should be more regular and predictable and should target recovery and prevention programmes such as seed distribution and improved veterinary services. Often, says Care, the causes of mass starvation are not food shortages but things like climate change, lack of cash to buy food readily available in markets, and HIV/AIDS. By 2020, says the report, HIV/AIDS is expected to kill one in five of Southern Africa’s farm labourers, further depleting its food production, a problem which handing out food will not solve.
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