Africa - At the dawn of a new millennium, the continent that some say witnessed the birth of the first human civilizations -- may be dying. As widespread drought, starvation and the unchecked spread of deadly diseases continue -- the numbers of people dying on a daily basis throughout Africa is staggering. Causes of poverty in Africa In many parts of Africa, the production of food depends upon the intense manual labor of every family. When large areas of Africa are dislocated by war, or adults die from the scourge of AIDS, fields cannot be worked, and food cannot be produced. Many, especially women and children are forced to depend upon hand outs of food. Unpredictable weather can also aggravate the situation. The majority of the poor population in Western and Central Africa (about 100million people) are poor farmers who live in villages and farm just to feed themselves and their families. They depend mostly on agriculture for their livelihoods. However, about one in every five of these people live in a country affected by warfare. War destroys families and farms leaving most people with nothing at all but extreme poverty and starvation. Famine follows wars in most cases in Africa. poverty in Africa In conflict-torn countries such as Angola, Burundi, Mozambique, Liberia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Congo, Sierra Leon, and Uganda, the capacity of rural people to make a livelihood has been dramatically curtailed by warfare, and food production has plummeted. Lack of good drinking water Lack of good drinking water is another major problem in almost all African villages especially in desert countries like Niger, Sudan and Mali. Water is very scarce and lack of good drinking water is a major problem in Ethiopia and surrounding countries where most people and farm animals share same water sources. Children walk miles upon miles everyday to nearby streams to fetch water. Although there are many rivers and streams in the Western, Central, and Southern parts of Africa, good drinking water is a major problem in these areas. Most of the water sources in these areas are infested with water related diseases such as bilharzia, sleeping sickness, river blindness, guinea worm disease ( guinea worm disease is a major problem in Northern Ghana. 2010) and ofcourse malaria. Besides these, diseases such cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery and pneumonia continue to kill children in record numbers. Facts of poverty in Africa: •315 million people – one in two of people in Sub Saharan Africa survive on less than one dollar per day •184 million people – 33% of the African population – suffer from malnutrition •During the 1990s the average income per capita decreased in 20 African countries •Less than 50% of Africa’s population has access to hospitals or doctors •In 2000, 300 million Africans did not have access to safe water •The average life expectancy in Africa is 41 years •Only 57% of African children are enrolled in primary education, and only one of three children complete school •One in six children die before the age of 5. •Children account for half of all civilian casualties in wars in Africa •The African continent lost more than 5,3 million hectares of forest during the decade of the 1990s How to Help our continent •Having more educated women with greater rights could make the single biggest positive difference to reducing poverty, the rate of childhood diseases and death and the spread of AIDS in developing countries. •Reduce child mortality Thirty years ago, one in five children in the world died before their fifth birthday. This has now been halved to less than one in ten. Better access to vaccinations and other basic health services and improved living standards have contributed to a steep decline in global deaths among infants and children over the past 30 years. •Improve maternal health Every year, more than half a million women die from complications in pregnancy or childbirth. Almost all of them would still be alive if they had access to a skilled midwife or doctor in childbirth and effective emergency care for women who have complications. •Combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases In Africa, in 2003, some 26.6 million people were living with HIV, 3.2 million people became infected, and AIDS killed 2.3 million. •Develop a global partnership for development The targets in the global partnership for development millennium development goal include a fairer trading and financial system. Getting rid of barriers to trade could lift almost 300 million people in the developing world out of poverty.