Two Letters

The Catholic Herald
(heading by Catholic Herald)

22 July 2011

Facing future famine

SIR – In your editorial ‘African food crisis is a test of our integrity as Catholics’ (July 8) you name five countries, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Uganda, and Kenya. The population of these five countries was 32 million in 1950, it is now 167 million, and by 2050 it is expected to be over 321 million, that is to say a much greater population than the 230 million of the whole of Africa in 1950.

Famines and droughts in Africa have been recorded since Biblical times, and we can presume that they will go on for the foreseeable future. We seem not to have been fully prepared to deal with this present famine, so when the next one comes we should be more advanced, as the numbers involved will obviously be far, far greater.

Catholics especially ought to prepare for these great hungers of the future as we have often led the efforts to deny Africans effective family planning, and I see no sign that we will change our attitude in the future.


Leicester Mercury
(heading by Leicester Mercury)

23 July 2011

BIRTH CONTROL IS THE KEY

In choosing Unicef as a partner in its efforts to alleviate hunger in the Horn of Africa, the Mercury has chosen an organization that not only knows how best to alleviating hunger, but how best to prevent future famines. (Mercury July 18) I hope the response to your appeal will be generous.

Famines and droughts in Africa have been recorded since Biblical times, and we can presume that they will go on for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, because of the population explosion in Africa, the next famine is likely to involve such huge numbers that it will be beyond our ability to feed them. The countries involved in the present hunger have already increased their populations five times since 1950 and by 2050 their numbers are likely to be ten times as great as in 1950.

The ‘Planning births’ section of Unicef’s report The State of the World’s Children 1992 opened with the famous statement “Family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single ‘technology’ now available to the human race”. These benefits include the ending of malnutrition, hunger, and famine.

The section ends with Unicef’s proposal “to put the knowledge and the means of family planning at the disposal of every couple of child-bearing age before the end of this present century.” This proposal was acted on successfully in most of the world, but not in Africa, so, when Unicef has helped to alleviate the present famine, I hope they will pursue their efforts to make family planning available to all with greater vigour and persistence: then we will have no more unmanageable hunger and famine in Africa.

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