Africa – answers on a postcard…

By July 8, 20053 Comments

The recent Live8 concerts and the G8 conference in Edinburgh have focused the mind on overseas aid – in particular in Africa. As I write, BBC News24 are showing the ubiquitous Bono of U2 telling us that they are “the saleman of aid in the world.”
Now, obviously saving lives is a good thing, as Michelle and I were discussing last night. There are plenty of naysayers, but I’m reserving judgement. I have a few questions for Bob and Bono before I get behind the whole movement.

One. A whole load of finger-clicking from those Live8 adverts has shown that a child dies every three seconds. How can I check this is correct?
Two. If a child dies every three seconds, and the yearly growth of Africa’s population is rising to 20% a year by 2050 at current rates (source), does that mean that a child is born more rapidly than every three seconds? If so, there’s an awful lot of spare time and carnal knowledge floating around over there…
Three. If there is a child born more rapidly than every three seconds, shouldn’t we be working to lower that birthrate at least as vigorously – if not more urgently – than stopping early death? Lower birth rates would mean food is not dispersed and stretched as much as it is currently.
Four. If we give a load more aid, and a load less people die, won’t the population of Africa grow exponentially (way, way more than the 20% predicted) until there is a population and resourcing crisis?

I’m not a naysayer. I know that there are other countries with higher population growth in other countries – but this demographic-changing aid isn’t going to those countries. I’m just asking for a few answers so I can be entirely happy with the cause. Answers on a postcard please…


  • Psimon says:

    interesting point on birth rates. I have given this much thought, and have come to the following conclusion: If your children are likely to die before reaching adulthood, you will tend to try and produce more and thereby make it more likely that at least one will survive.

    The point was, i believe, that most of these deaths are preventable. Diarohea (spelling! couldn’t be bothered to look it up!) is not fatal in the “west”, but is lethal in developing countries. It is also easy and cheap to cure in the majority of cases.

    I am disappointed in Bono and Geldof…they both claim that G8 was a success, but both also claimed that Blair was brilliant for acheiving this. The result was actually not that good, and less than 20% of the Live8 dream was acheived. THIS is a disgrace, and the fame-mongers should be exposed for the political hobbyhorses they have become.

    But thats just me!

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