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Germans 'reluctant' to help Africa as famine worsens

The Local · 22 Jul 2011, 12:37

Published: 22 Jul 2011 12:37 GMT+02:00

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Appeals to help victims of the earthquake disaster in Haiti attracted donations of more than €7 million within days, said Manuela Roßbach, a manager with the organization, but so far projects to help those caught in the famine in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya have only received €800,000.

Willingness to help African causes, in general, has been relatively low in Germany, Roßbach said on Friday.

“The catastrophe in east Africa has been building up for a long time but because of a lack of publicity, and therefore missing financial means, the necessary measures could not be carried out sufficiently in the regions concerned,” she said in a statement.

“This is why it is even more important to help the people quickly. Donations for this are urgently needed.”

Desperate people are still leaving areas of Somalia affected by the civil war, heading from the rebel-controlled south, to the capital Mogadishu, where they are ending up in camps. The BBC reported on Friday that some of those arriving are dying.

“They are braving the dangerous journey to find help, but for many it is too late,” a journalist on the ground reported.

Doctors in the Somalian camps have treated thousands of undernourished babies and children in the last nine days alone. Mothers with starving children are standing in line for hours in order get the most rudimentary help.

More than 11 million people are currently affected by the worst drought for 60 years, said Matthias Mogge from the Deutsche Welthungerhilfe charity on Friday.

The immediate need is to save lives, he said, but a network of help is needed in order to help people in Somalia in particular, to improve their situations at home so they are not driven from their country by hunger. “Refugee camps are not a solution,” he said.

He said global warming was a significant factor in the failure of crops, and that therefore long-term programmes should be put in place to enable people to stay in their regions to prevent large migrations of hungry people which provokes instability in the region.

The German government has said it would increase immediate aid for the region by €14 million. But the United Nations said in the last few days that around $1.6 billion (€1.1 billion) was needed each day.

Story continues below…

Development Minister Dirk Niebel told the Saarbrücker Zeitung that international efforts were being made to gather the money needed. So far, pledges worth $880 million have been secured, the paper said.

Niebel said that Germans had proven themselves generous in donating for previous disasters such as those in Haiti and Pakistan. “I would be pleased to see the willingness to donate for famines grow,” he said.

The Local/DPA/hc

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Your comments about this article

14:04 July 22, 2011 by asteriks
I am homeless 8 years (I don't drink, I don't smoke and I don't use any drugs) and I would never give money to charities, because 80% of donations they spend for themselves (high salaries, etc) and 20% for end users. Oxfam has budget for advertising 1,5million (!), and they have high salaries (minimum 30 000 pounds per month) and they go to East Africa to speak to the people that they should wash hands. Sorry, but give that 30 000 pounds to Africans and they will jump to do the same job for so high salaries, give that millions to the people in Africa to build pipelines for water and desalination plants and they will be able to use water from the sea the same as Libya, Israel, etc. Somalia is beside the sea and they have lack of water and Oxfam and other organizations spent millions to "help them". Sorry, how much money is donated for Haiti and what is now situation there? How much it is better than before? It is the same as before, people are still in the same problem. It is the same with national charities for homeless in Europe, they get millions from budget and from private donations, I strongly believe if that money is spent to buy homes for homeless, there would be no more homeless. But nobody build homes for homeless than charities spend millions and homeless stay on the street.

My advice for people is: always help personally and you can control how your money will be spent, and don't forget that big organizations from the west are big and bureaucratic and they spend hundred of millions of euro but mostly for themselves and just peace of it will be spent for people who need help. Bureaucratic means also they can have rules which exclude some people from help even they need help.
14:06 July 22, 2011 by bugger
you wanted to say 30 000 pounds per year:)
14:19 July 22, 2011 by 0waldo
What did England do for the great potatoe famine?
15:25 July 22, 2011 by harcourt
Owaldo #3 When I saw the spelling of potato I thought that this was an American, but after reaching for my Websters I realised that they were just illiterate. Apart from that it could be someone of Irish ancestry with a long memory, which is something we are constantly being reminded in these columns does not help Europe in this day and age. Now that you have mentioned the U.K. were you aware that the UK public by individual donations raised 9 million pounds in three days for the East Africas famine and that the total now stands at 20 million
16:39 July 22, 2011 by dbert4
Let the Somalian pirates feed there own people
17:17 July 22, 2011 by Englishted

Completely agree,if the money they have was used plus the money spent by the worlds navies the problem would be solved.

Sadly when there is enough to eat the production of more mouths comes to the fore.
18:51 July 22, 2011 by KewGardensNYC
Forgive me for sounding crass, but at what point does charity end and personal & cultural responsibility come to the fore? Is the developed world to subsidize the rest of the world where people routinely have families of 8 or more, don't learn about latrines, grazing patterns, saving scrub to grow into trees and evolve governments which spend their money on yet more weapons?

Yes, there should be family planning, and yes, there should be advisors to teach people better farming techniques, but this wish has been going on since before 1900. So should successful cultures support the rest of the world where the changes are stubbornly not being made? .

Yes, one can debate the
19:06 July 22, 2011 by harcourt
I have a certain sympathy with a lot of the comments. To take one example which really gets me. The British Govt. gives God knows how much financial help to India to assist their millions in poverty, BUT this is a country with a nuclear arms programme together with a space research programme !!! It is utter madness , they must think we are fools, - and we are.
19:14 July 22, 2011 by michael4096
@KewGardensNYC - not sure where you were going, but if it is where I think you were going you don't have my vote

Africa will never get is agriculture and development sorted out while the developed world keeps mismanaging aid. What chance has a local farmer trying to use modern techniques have when the local charity shop is giving away the same produce because there is a surplus in Europe or the US so lots of 'feel good' on the cheap?
19:34 July 22, 2011 by Englishted
@14:19 July 22, 2011 by 0waldo

What did England do for the great potatoe famine?

Nothing you forgot where you planted them .

Sorry but a stupid question gets a stupid answer.

Why did the I.R.A. bomb my home town in 1973 killing teenagers in a pub out for a good time. Also why are the culprits still not named by the U.K. and the republic's governments.(see Name of the Father for hollywood version )
20:43 July 22, 2011 by Lachner
I like to help out underprivileged people in third world countries and the homeless in my home or host country. Nonetheless I only do this when I am certain that the help I provide will reach the end user and will eventually help them overcome their poverty. Most of the people relate "helping" with giving out money, when in fact what most people need is help with education and finding a job. In the case of Africa, they need help with education, technology and engineering. For example, instead of Germany sending millions of euros per year that will eventually be stolen or misused by African governments, they could provide Africans with University scholarships, send out professors to teach at local schools or send engineers with a specific project like building desalination plants or water resource infrastructure. I think that would be awesome!

"Give a man a fish and he will eat for one day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat forever."
21:42 July 22, 2011 by MichaelMolenaar
922,000,000 people live in Africa. That population is twice that of Europe. The highest birthrates in the world are in sub saharan Africa. When a famine occurs it means that the land cannot support that population that lives on it. The best way to solve this problem is for the African government's to limit their own massive corruption, and to promote the development of more healthy economies by creating legal systems and free market economies. Land management is also very important. Rhodesia used to be the bread basket of South Africa, and now Zimbabwe seems to have famine every other year.
22:10 July 22, 2011 by Staticjumper
@ KewGardensNYC, you have a point. It seems that the more money countries donate to the third world, the more the third world becomes dependent on charities and foreign aid to treat the symptoms of poverty instead of the root causes; i.e. over-population and corruption. NO amount of money, literacy programs or well projects will encourage responsible family planning. Does anyone remember "Live-Aid" back in 1985? Remember all the pictures of those poor, starving children barely clinging to life? Well, those kids are now in their mid-twenties with 8 ­ 12 poor, starving children of their own waiting for us to come feed them.

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day .. teach him how to fish and he'll sit in a boat drinking beer all day.
22:15 July 22, 2011 by Perser=Anti-arabism
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
22:35 July 22, 2011 by Expat IV
WARNING: My comments will be very unpopular.

Arabs and the Portuguese bought and sold African people to American, Caribbean and South American colonists from the 1600's through the mid 1800's.

Europe greedily took over Sub-Shahran Africa in the mid to late 1800's, raping it of natural resources, drawing borders where no borders had existed and all but enslaving local populations. Cecil Rhodes was a prime example. Remember the Belgian Congo? Rhodesia?The only reason the US was not involved is that we got there too late and there was nothing left for us to take.

The current native rulers in these states only follow the example set by their colonial era masters. No wonder the area is a cesspit.

What do we former colonials owe them?

Fire away--I can take it.
22:54 July 22, 2011 by Englishted
@Expat IV

What do we former colonials owe them?

Coming from England I owe them nothing until those Roman who came to my land took slaves and raped it of natural resources start giving us handouts.


"Give a man a fish and he will eat for one day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat forever."

Dream on ,teach them how to use contraception and you may solve the problem.
23:14 July 22, 2011 by Expat IV

Poor argument. The Romans invaded your country around 1800 years ago--is it taking you that long to recover?

Contraception when they are starving and can't afford food, water, clothing or shelter? Oh yes--asbstinence.
07:59 July 23, 2011 by harcourt
There is so much deep seated predjudice in many of the comments here and I suppose it will continue. Very depressing !!
08:05 July 23, 2011 by ChrisRea
The current famine in East Africa needs immediate donations. For the long-run, help can be provided also by giving loans to local entrepreneurs through Kiva (www.kiva.org). Individual contributions can amount to as little as $25. After reimbursement, the money can be used to finance a new loan or, after 2 years of inactivity, returned to your PayPal account. As I like the idea with the fish and fishing, I started contributing since December last year and I think things go pretty well. If anyone wants more information or an invitation to Kiva, please feel free to send me a private message. Opening an account with Kiva can be done also directly on their website.

At the moment of posting, there are 109 loans for Kenya waiting to be financed (out of 202 for the whole Africa or 1077 for the whole world).

Warnings: No interest is given for the money contributed. Some loans are defaulted (but the default rate is quite low - ~1.19%). Not all loans are successful stories, so I advise paying a bit of attention to the details of the loan (and general articles about Kiva). Definitely not all poverty-related problems of the world will be solved through Kiva.
11:31 July 23, 2011 by harcourt
ChrisRea #19

Thanks very much for directing towards the Kiva website. My wife is at the moment in Zimbabwe on a 2yr assignment trying to help out in an extremely poor country, which wouldn't be so if it wasn't for the delusions of an old dictator.
12:25 July 23, 2011 by Englishted
@Expat IV

Somalia,Ethiopia, Ethiopia was not colonized by a European power until 1936,and free in 1941. So where is your slave argument ?.

How many times would you provide aid ?,

Ethiopia has been having droughts often over a long period yet has the second largest population in Africa (tenth largest land mass),when there is a surplus what happens to it ?.

Somalia could spend less on guns and more on food and heath care ,and what about the pirates? ,if you are such a fan of aid take it there yourself don't ask others to risk their lives for your moral high ground.
14:27 July 23, 2011 by Lachner
@Chrisrea, thanks for sharing about Kiva. That is something that really interests me, so I will join and donate. It looks like a good way to help out, without them becoming dependent or accustomed to getting things for free.

@Expat IV, although I agree that Europe colonized and ravaged Africa during the 1800's, that is not a valid excuse for Africa to be poor and for them to be saved every time by Europe. For example, America was also colonized by England, Spain, Portugal and France, but most countries there have managed to develop strong economies, good education, industries and some are even on the verge of becoming first world countries (Chile, Brasil, Mexico, Costa Rica and Argentina). Therefore, I think that a lot has to do with the people of each country wanting to get education, end corruption and to work hard.
14:30 July 23, 2011 by George Palmer
When the charities finally get water to these unfortunate people can they put something in it to stem their breeding. The whole problem revolves around too many mouths to feed. This disaster is natures way of keeping the population down. And no I'm not going to contribute a penny because it will make the problem worse.
14:50 July 23, 2011 by Expat IV

Good point!


I made no suggestions, voiced no support for aid and took no moral high ground. I I simply stated facts.
19:29 July 23, 2011 by Freeman
Yes the Global warming effect is felt there, ( Africa) . As yesterday,temps rose in Manhattan to a - real feel - temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit. We who continue to impress all while driving our gasoline powered automobiles and spew filth into everyone's air and notably from the enormous Factories designed to exploit workers whilst fattening the owners wallets. Who then turn to run for office as politicians, only to continue "our" fate for the next generations. It's a downward spiral out of control, and we may all fry sooner or later until changes are made. But let's keep blaming Africa's poor contraception. Passing the buck,
20:11 July 23, 2011 by farmon
I have not seen a descent answer here yet. Remember Rhodesia? It was the breadbasket of Africa, feeding over one third of the continent. Now they have self rule and are starving. The only realistic answer is recolonization by the Europeans to control and feed the African populations. In almost all African counties, the women do 90 percent of the work while men war and spread HIV. First thing is to get them fed and then take control to stop this unending insanity, for this is a continent of unending resourses that are not even being utilized by the native Africans.
20:31 July 23, 2011 by Englishted
@Expat IV

Yes agreed you may have only stated facts ,however this article is about famine in the horn of Africa .

Your facts are about Sub-Saharan Africa.

What ties these together apart from them being on the same continent.

I still stand by the idea that population is a major contributor to the problem.

Slavery is a red herring in this debate as nobody alive was around at that time.
20:43 July 23, 2011 by farmon
Global warming and overpopulation are just liberal fantasies and useless excuses. They accomplish nothing. Read # 26 and get some reality.
20:53 July 23, 2011 by harcourt
farnon #28

I guess the word liberal is pretty negative in your dictionary, whereas it is normally considered positive in most dictionaries around the world !!
09:53 July 24, 2011 by heyheyhey
I say, feed the African women and children

Let the adult males starve to death.

Perhaps if the adult males die off this country would have a chance to be something other than grossly violent. I am sickened almost daily reading about the heinous crimes perpetrated on a mass scale in Africa, on a daily basis.
10:44 July 24, 2011 by wenddiver
These are three different places, I feel no obligation to do ANYTHING for Somalia. I feel no obligation to help people who want me dead. Blackhawk down remembered, feel free to starve in Peace.
11:50 July 24, 2011 by harcourt
Interesting fact:- There is more child poverty in India than there is in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa !!
15:43 July 24, 2011 by WBerliner
ChrisRea #19

Kiva is NOT interest free!

Self-sustainability is critical to creating long-term solutions to poverty, and charging interest to borrowers is necessary for microfinance institutions to achieve this. Our Field Partners are free to charge interest, but Kiva will not partner with an organization that charges exorbitant interest rates. We also require Field Partners to fully disclose their interest rates. You can find more information about the interest rates that Kiva's Field Partners charge on our Field Partner pages: http://www.kiva.org/partners
18:15 July 24, 2011 by snowey
The UK Government donates £50 million and Gernany €14 million. Why the difference?
19:23 July 24, 2011 by harcourt
Easy, it's because Germany is the richest country in Europe !!
19:30 July 24, 2011 by ChrisRea
@ WBerliner

Of course the borrowers pay interest (in most cases) and/or commissions for the money. The financing is done through a microfinance institution, just like a regular loan. The main difference is that without the contributors brought by Kiva, financing institutions will not have (a lot of) money available for these borrowers. Also, the interest charged in this cases is lower than the usual, but the microfinance institutions still need to be compensated for their effort. If you want to find out more about how microfinancing works, check the story of Muhammad Yunus, the one who got the Nobel prize for making microfinancing an important instrument in the struggle against poverty.

My warning said that no interest is given for the money contributed. In other words, if you contribute towards financing these loans, you will get no interest. As you normally get your money back at the end of the loan, the actual donation you do is giving up the interest that you could get by putting them in a regular bank (and also taking the risk of not having the loan refunded, as they are not guaranteed).
20:36 July 24, 2011 by WBerliner
@ ChrisRea

You are right that is is interest free for the contributors. I know very well how the micro-financing works, Mr. Yunus and his works. The general idea is not unique and can be good in small communities, but not in large scale or long term.

Probably you can read about Yunus here:


There are a lot of scammers and dishonest companies which charge much more interest in poor regions than local banks - Kiva is in partnership with some of them. Do your research and you will find out. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiva_(organization)#Field_Partner_fraud_and_institutional_weakness

Anyway it's definitely better idea than pure charity, but its far from healthy economic help.

I'm not criticizing Kiva and their's business, cause I don't have better solution. Just want people to know more facts about it.
23:56 July 24, 2011 by ChrisRea
@ WBerliner,

Where is money, there is fraud/corruption. However, in the case of Kiva, the level of irregularities reported is low enough - it does not exceed the "normal" level you would find with a Western bank (probably because of the audit system Kiva put in place). Of course I did my research before making the first loan. This is why I also recommended to pay attention to the details of the loan and to general articles about Kiva. But considering all the drawbacks, my opinion is that overall it is definitely a healthy economic help, even if it cannot address all poverty problems.

My personal experience with Kiva is positive. I contribute to a new loan every month. As every time I receive reimbursements from the previous months' loans, it is less than $25 that I have to fund in any given month. Actually this month, because a loan was fully reimbursed much in advance, I contributed to two new loans. I had no defaults until now.

Of course Kiva is not the only promoting microfinancing. My guess is that the more organisations in this field, the better - the standards could go only upwards.
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