Africa Needs a Strong Community of Activists

For the last ten years we have been told an ‘Africa rising’ story in which continued economic growth is offered as the only measure of progress that seems to matter. It is a woefully inadequate way to understand the health of our societies at a time when we still face a number of stubborn development challenges that governments and business alone cannot solve. What we have witnessed is largely jobless growth and growth without equity. Inequality plagues us. For too many people across our continent the daily reality remains a struggle for jobs and better access to land and water, healthcare and education. Women are the backbone of many communities and could make a far greater contribution to our economies but often progress on gender equality is slow. Then there is climate change which even the Pentagon sees as the biggest threat to global security. For example, the tragedy of Darfur is now being understood as probably the worst resource war brought about by climate impacts. The scientific consensus is clear: our continent and its people will face the worst of its impacts. Those who have done the least to cause the climate crisis are already facing higher temperatures, more drought in some places and more flooding in others. Amplified by climate change the recent El Nino weather pattern has destroyed crops and livelihoods of millions of people in Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Food prices have risen for everyone. Climate change is deepening historical inequality that has long denied people living in poverty access to services, resources and wealth. If our economies are driven by the exploitation of natural resources the proceeds often seem to benefit a few people in power which in turn further entrenches the inequalities of a neo-liberal economic system. Only occasionally do droplets of wealth ever ‘trickle down’.

Jan Truter