November 25, 2005: Headlines: COS - Niger: Popluation Control: Famine: HIV: AIDS: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Niger RPCV Darolyn Gibb Vogel says: Hunger is Africa's natural disaster

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Niger: Peace Corps Niger : The Peace Corps in Niger: November 25, 2005: Headlines: COS - Niger: Popluation Control: Famine: HIV: AIDS: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Niger RPCV Darolyn Gibb Vogel says: Hunger is Africa's natural disaster

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Thursday, November 24, 2005 - 11:40 pm: Edit Post

Niger RPCV Darolyn Gibb Vogel says: Hunger is Africa's natural disaster

Niger  RPCV Darolyn Gibb Vogel says: Hunger is Africa's natural disaster

Across the continent, the average number of yearly food emergencies has nearly tripled since the 1980s. In sub-Saharan Africa, where the population is growing at a faster rate than in any other major world region, the number of malnourished people has increased from around 88 million in 1970 to about 200 million today.

Niger RPCV Darolyn Gibb Vogel says: Hunger is Africa's natural disaster

Hunger is Africa's natural disaster


Widely known for being falsely accused by the Bush administration of selling uranium to Iraq to build the notoriously non-existent weapons of mass destruction, Niger is facing a genuine scandal. One-quarter of its population is facing a yearly food shortage and the government is in denial about the alarming situation.

A similar crisis is brewing among the population in Malawi, where the cycle of drought and poverty is quickly spiraling out of control. Relief workers in the country, like those in Niger, are fearful that appeals for aid will bring about only short-term relief. Recent news reports in The Washington Post and Newsweek say that while the Bush administration is providing more aid to Africa than previous administrations, it is falling far short on fulfilling its pledges.

It is amazing that so little has changed since I worked in Niger as a Peace Corps volunteer nutritionist more than 15 years ago. The global policy outlook hasn't really changed. Much is promised, but little is delivered and nothing ever really addresses the problems of persistent hunger, poverty and famine -- Africa's very own version of an ongoing Katrina.

I met many children during my time in Niger, but one stands out in my memory. Her name was Salamatou, but they called her Juma -- Friday, in the Hausa language of Niger, the day of her birth. I found her and her teenage mother waiting for a lift at the intersection of two dusty roads. At about 2 years old, Juma lay on a piece of tattered colored cloth, too emaciated even to sit up.

Pictures of children like Juma are what bring in much-needed emergency food aid to countries struggling with chronic food shortages. But does the motivation exist to turn this aid into something that could actually begin to establish food security?

As we've learned from our own Katrina, natural disasters happen. But unlike hurricanes, poverty and its resulting hunger can be prevented. In Niger and Malawi, the food supply is being stretched beyond its limits and other resources -- financial and natural -- are being overburdened by rapid population growth.

Many young girls in Niger still begin childbearing in their early teens and each woman has an average of eight children (the highest birth rate of any country in the world). Its population (14 million) is projected to nearly double by 2025 -- to 26 million. Yet access to and use of contraceptives is almost non-existent; fewer than 5 percent of married women of reproductive age use modern contraception.

Niger's plight is hardly unique. Poorly functioning government institutions and the spread of HIV, which now affects approximately 15 percent of the population, exacerbate the food shortage in Malawi. There, women have an average of almost six children and population is projected to increase from 13 million today to almost 20 million in 2025.

Across the continent, the average number of yearly food emergencies has nearly tripled since the 1980s. In sub-Saharan Africa, where the population is growing at a faster rate than in any other major world region, the number of malnourished people has increased from around 88 million in 1970 to about 200 million today.

One clear solution to slowing population growth in Africa exists: Increase access and availability of reproductive health care. When given the opportunity to determine the size of one's family, couples often choose to have fewer children. As a result, the burdens on a country's financial and natural resources decrease. Families improve their chances of avoiding poverty. More girls and young women continue their education. Women also become able to contribute to the financial well-being of their families. This money increases access to food.

Unlike so many, Juma was a lucky little girl. She was sent to a nutritional recuperation center in the nearest town. When I visited her several weeks later, Juma had doubled her weight, and when she was tickled, a faint smile would cross her lips. At the time, it seemed like a happy ending.

I've wondered over the years what became of Juma, or if she is even alive today. She'd be 18 years old and most likely a mother herself -- probably several times over. I doubt she has access to reproductive health care, and I fear she does not have enough food for herself and her children. Unless more is done to give people like Juma the information and contraceptives they need to plan and space their childbearing, the fate of her children and grandchildren is likely to be grim.

Carolyn Gibb Vogel, MPH, is a senior research associate at Population Action International and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger from 1988-1990.

When this story was posted in November 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
PC establishes awards for top Volunteers Date: November 9 2005 No: 749 PC establishes awards for top Volunteers
Gaddi H. Vasquez has established the Kennedy Service Awards to honor the hard work and service of two current Peace Corps Volunteers, two returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and two Peace Corps staff members. The award to currently serving volunteers will be based on a demonstration of impact, sustainability, creativity, and catalytic effect. Submit your nominations by December 9.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

Top Stories: November 19, 2005 Date: November 19 2005 No: 751 Top Stories: November 19, 2005
President Bush meets with PCVs in Panama 7 Nov
PC Trainee Wyatt Ammon dies in accident in Zambia 18 Nov
Congress appropriates $322 Million for Peace Corps 17 Nov
James Walsh on the crisis in Nepal 9 Nov
Pam Musk climbs Mount Kilimanjaro 6 Nov
David Morsilli awed by havoc in Mississippi 6 Nov
Tierney Davis in Tsunami Relief Work in Indonesia 1 Nov
Julie Harrold says "Don't change the Peace Corps" 31 Oct
Jacqueline Lyons shares her poems about Peace Corps 28 Oct
Peace Corps returns to its roots in Michigan 28 Oct
David Peterson serves in Katrina Response Team #1 25 Oct
Director Vasquez Travels to Tonga and Fiji 24 Oct
Laura Vanderkam says "Peace Corps needs makeover" 24 Oct
Shriver Center and Maryland RPCVs host C. Payne Lucas 21 Oct
Don Mosley to receive Pacem in Terris honor 17 Oct
Mary Cameron Kilgour writes on abuse 16 Oct
George Packer writes about Iraq for the New Yorker 16 Oct
Richard Celeste says Colorado higher education faces peril 16 Oct
Kevin Quigley says Keep Peace Corps, military separate 16 Oct
Christie and Eric Nelson say no to cars 15 Oct
Isaiah Zagar creates mosaic in Oakland 14 Oct

Military Option sparks concerns Date: September 13 2005 No: 731 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military is allowing recruits to meet part of their reserve military obligations after active duty by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" and RPCV Chris Matthews leads the debate on "Hardball." Avi Spiegel says Peace Corps is not the place for soldiers while Coleman McCarthy says to Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps. Read the results of our poll among RPCVs. Latest: Congressman John Kline introduces legislation to alter the program to remove the Peace Corps as an option for completing an individual’s military enlistment requirement.

Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger Date: October 22 2005 No: 738 Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger
When the National Call to Service legislation was amended to include Peace Corps in December of 2002, this country had not yet invaded Iraq and was not in prolonged military engagement in the Middle East, as it is now. Read the story of how one volunteer spent three years in captivity from 1976 to 1980 as the hostage of a insurrection group in Colombia in Joanne Marie Roll's op-ed on why this legislation may put soldier/PCVs in the same kind of danger. Latest: Read the ongoing dialog on the subject.

Peace Corps at highest Census in 30 years Date: October 22 2005 No: 745 Peace Corps at highest Census in 30 years
Congratulations to the Peace Corps for the highest number of volunteers in 30 years with 7,810 volunteers serving in 71 posts across the globe. Of course, the President's proposal to double the Peace Corps to 15,000 volunteers made in his State of the Union Address in 2002 is now a long forgotten dream. With deficits in federal spending stretching far off into the future, any substantive increase in the number of volunteers will have to wait for new approaches to funding and for a new administration. Choose your candidate and start working for him or her now.

'Celebration of Service' a major success Date: October 10 2005 No: 730 'Celebration of Service' a major success
The Peace Corps Fund's 'Celebration of Service' on September 29 in New York City was a major success raising approximately $100,000 for third goal activities. In the photo are Maureen Orth (Colombia); John Coyne (Ethiopia) Co-founder of the Peace Corps Fund; Caroline Kennedy; Barbara Anne Ferris (Morocco) Co-founder; Former Senator Harris Wofford, member of the Advisory Board. Read the story here.

PC apologizes for the "Kasama incident" Date: October 13 2005 No: 737 PC apologizes for the "Kasama incident"
The District Commissioner for the Kasama District in Zambia issued a statement banning Peace Corps activities for ‘grave’ social misconduct and unruly behavior for an incident that occurred on September 24 involving 13 PCVs. Peace Corps said that some of the information put out about the incident was "inflammatory and false." On October 12, Country Director Davy Morris met with community leaders and apologized for the incident. All PCVs involved have been reprimanded, three are returning home, and a ban in the district has since been lifted.

The Peace Corps Library Date: March 27 2005 No: 536 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related stories in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can find hundreds of stories about what RPCVs with your same interests or from your Country of Service are doing today. If you have a web site, support the "Peace Corps Library" and link to it today.

Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000  strong Date: April 2 2005 No: 543 Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000 strong
170,000 is a very special number for the RPCV community - it's the number of Volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. It's also a number that is very special to us because March is the first month since our founding in January, 2001 that our readership has exceeded 170,000. And while we know that not everyone who comes to this site is an RPCV, they are all "Friends of the Peace Corps." Thanks everybody for making PCOL your source of news for the Returned Volunteer community.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Niger; Popluation Control; Famine; HIV; AIDS


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.