Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Life is the only gift that Africa's babies need

On one side of the world a mega rich woman is inundated with expensive - unasked for - gifts to welcome her new baby girl.

On the other side tens of thousands of mothers scrabble to find any scrap of food to save their babies from starvation ...

Victoria Beckham has, commendably, given all those premium-range buggies and other paraphernalia to charity.

She didn't ask for any of this stuff.

But it is, nonetheless, an illustration of how the world is ill-divid - as we say in these parts.

Shocking headlines, including understandably the horror of Norway, have nudged Somalia from the main news agenda.

It has become the Forgotten Famine.

We can put men into space. We have created bombs that can steer themselves down streets to detonate with chilling precision. But we cannot, seemingly, deliver a bowl of food to the hands of a starving child.

The aid agencies are in emergency mode. Giving what we can is all we can do for now. But afterwards?

I remember when I was a child watching television footage of another such famine and thinking that those scenes of people trying to till the soil with hoes looked like something from Biblical times.

Why didn't we send them tractors? Combine harvesters? The heavy duty agricultural artillery the West has long taken for granted?

All these years later I still see pictures of people hacking at the hard barren soil with tools a step up from what the caveman had, smiling their gratitude because we've sent their village a goat and I don't feel sad anymore. I feel angry.

And yes, I know about the mad despots and greedy rulers and local warlords.

But if there was a will - a real will - in the West to help Africa feed itself surely it could be done?

Where's the targeted development plan from Western governments? The co-ordinated strategy?

Do we just sit back and watch this happen - again and again and again?

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