The current crisis in Africa has been unfolding for years. It is neither new nor a surprise. This is not a failure of the warning signs. This is a failure of capitalism, a failure to provide the necessary resources.
The number of people facing extreme hunger in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia has more than doubled since last year, from 10 million to over 23 million. Nearly half a million are already facing famine conditions. Nearly half of the livestock essential for livelihoods in East Africa has perished. One person on average is likely to die every 48 seconds from acute hunger. 5.7 million children are expected to be acutely malnourished in 2022.
East African countries have seen impressive economic growth. However, the region continues to have high levels of inequality. Wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a tiny few, while a majority are struggling to meet their most basic needs, such as education and healthcare. The richest 10% of East Africans receive 47% of the national income. The poorest 50% of citizens earn 13.3%. In Rwanda, the richest 1% of the population earns 20% of the national income, nearly double the share held by the bottom 50%.
In the economic fallout from the pandemic. It is estimated that the region lost $15,7 billion in GDP in 2020 and the equivalent of 10 million full-time jobs.
In South Sudan, only 1% of the poorest children finish secondary school, and just 31% of citizens have access to healthcare. East African governments are planning to slash their public spending on pro-poor services like healthcare, education, agriculture and social protection in the coming years. From 2022 to 2026, nine East African nations intend to reduce annual public spending by $4.7, compared with 2021.
“With these spending cuts, the region risks spiralling into a never-ending cycle of inadequate health services, poor education facilities, economic decline with women and youth caught up at the centre of the fallout, unable to maximize and indeed shape the future that the continent has potential for” explained Parvin Ngala, a regional director for Oxfam.