The current famine in East Africa is the worst in 60 years which means more than 12 million people are in need of food – a truly incomprehensible number. But strangely enough, most of the world’s food aid doesn’t go towards crises such as this, instead they are delivered to war zones and areas wrecked by natural disasters.
One would think that Somalia would capture the world’s attention once again, but no, think again. The image of starving East Africans is all engrained in our memories thanks to Bob Geldorf and Band-Aid in the ‘80s. But in face of a far worse famine today, the world continues to sit idle – sipping coffee while watching the images on TV from a seemingly distant world portraying humans suffering in ways that is unfathomable for most Westerners. Although the television is a great tool to be used to spread news such as the famine in Africa, it has also allowed us as the international community to selectively choose what we choose to watch.
The onus is not all on us, however. National governments have these things called budgets, and although they haven’t been too strictly followed in the past few years, they do set aside a small chuck of money to give for relief aid and development. In face of the famine in the Horn, the United Nations requested 2.48 billion dollars for famine relief in Somalia. In response, a select few countries have stepped up to the plate, while others have greatly failed.
Not surprisingly, the Scandinavian countries have exceeded their pledges for famine relief. As the countries that set aside the largest percentage of their budgets to humanitarian relief efforts in regular circumstances, it is to be expected that they would lead the pack. Other shining star countries include England, who has exceed their pledge by 224%, Germany, and Canada; the world’s delinquents being France, Italy, South Korea, and (not surprisingly) Portugal and Greece.
The graphic to the side from One.org does a nice job at consolidating the stats.