Emergency Aid to Africa Grows; Wiser Spending Is Urged

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This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

One of the world's largest aid groups is calling for changes in the way the world reacts to emergencies in Africa.

CARE International says emergency aid is growing, yet more than one hundred twenty million Africans still face dangers like starvation.  It says they are living permanently on the edge of emergency because international aid is not being spent wisely.

CARE, in a new report, says three thousand million dollars was raised in two thousand three to fight emergencies in Africa.  That was three times the amount collected in nineteen ninety-seven.

But the group says financing is mostly for short-term food aid and often arrives too late.  Geoffrey Dennis, chief of CARE International U.K., uses the example of Niger.  He says early action would have cost one dollar a day per child to prevent malnutrition during a food crisis last year.  But because aid arrived late, he says, the cost to save a child's life is now about eighty dollars.

CARE says more than eighty percent of proposals for measures other than food aid in Kenya this year were rejected.

The report says Ethiopia reported itself to be in food crisis ninety-three percent of the time between nineteen eighty-six and two thousand four.  Yet, the report says, American spending on long-term aid in Ethiopia is less than one percent of emergency aid.

CARE is urging the international aid system to target more money at the root causes of emergencies.  It says these include H.I.V./AIDS, lack of local markets, climate change and poverty.

The group says long-term projects also need more support, like seed programs for farmers and better care for their animals.  By spending money more intelligently, Mr. Dennis says, all but the most unexpected food crises could be prevented.

He tells VOA he just returned from northeastern Kenya, an area hit hard by dry conditions.  He says he met a man named Joseph who a year ago had seventy cattle.  All of the animals have died, he says, so now the man needs emergency food, water and shelter.  Mr. Dennis says this situation could have been prevented had aid money been used wisely.

He says that a year ago, aid workers could have made sure the man had food and water for his animals.  They could have helped him better market his animals.  And they could have suggested that he get a mix of camels, goats and other animals, not just cattle.

And that's the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT, written by Jill Moss.  I'm Steve Ember.    

Voice of America Special English

Source: Emergency Aid to Africa Grows; Wiser Spending Is Urged
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