In Africa hunger kills. In developing countries it is as fatal as the three most dangerous infectious diseases in the world put together: AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. Hunger affects 232,5 million people in Africa alone. Malnutrition, however, does not mean simple lack of food: be malnourished means not getting enough micronutrients, sugars, and proteins. It is a condition that leads the individual to a slow agony and, in many cases, to death. A child, for example, will have a delayed physical and mental development. (S)he will frequently get sick and, most likely, will die of pneumonia or an intestinal infection in his/her early years of life. Diseases we treat with antibiotics and a few days in bed in the West.
In such a context, what we need is a real slap to the consciences of the powerful of the world. We have been organizing conferences, round tables, and meetings between politicians for years, to seek for political and economic solutions, which is a right thing to do. What happens, however, after the speeches, smiling photos, and big promises? If the governments do not deal with certain issues, who will take care of the millions of poor people who are starving? It seems that Africa is currently surviving only thanks to the kindness of a few individuals who decide to give their time and money to those who are less fortunate.
Two important personalities, in fact, have joined their efforts and have created a charity project with an enormous scope. They are Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, the wealthiest man in the United States, and Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest businessman, according to Forbes. The first, with his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been struggling for years now to defeat the terrible diseases that affect developing countries. The second one is well known in Africa as a businessman with an unerring nose for money and as president of the Dangote Foundation, with which he has distributed $ 100 million for charitable causes.
The two millionaires have already worked together and managed to eradicate polio in Nigeria. Now, however, they have an even more ambitious goal: to save 5 million families from hunger and poverty by 2020. They will try to do so with an investment program of 100 million dollars to defeat malnutrition, but also to root out the causes, making people – especially women – become economically independent through funding, education programs, and incentives of various kinds.
Bill Gates, being a skilled businessman, sees in this project something more than just a good deed. He knows that Nigeria’s growth will only be possible if the new generations manage to grow properly, then study and work. “Feeding is the best investment we can make in Nigeria’s well-being. We must make sure that children do not die of hunger anymore, but above all we must give them the tools to never suffer from hunger in their future life.”
“It is time to act! – Dangote adds to it – we have to eliminate malnutrition in Nigeria.” As a child, he used to buy candies and sweets at the market to sell them in front of the school at double the price and he does not give up in the face of such a bad destiny for his country. Dangote cannot accept to see so many children dying and young people with no perspective. After all, being born in Africa, Europe or in America is a matter of fortune. Those children, who seem so far away, are actually closer than we may imagine. Their sad eyes are asking us to take action, but we only get indignant, while we eat – unhappily – our soup and watch television.