Equatorial Guinea stands out in Africa as the only nation on the continent that speaks Spanish. It is also unique in its fight against hunger in Africa, even as hunger in Equatorial Guinea itself persists.
The country made news for making the first donation of $30 million to the Africa Solidarity Trust fund, created in 2013. The fund is intended to promote development in neighboring countries. It is not intended to supplant existing aid programs, but make rural African communities more resistant to drought and natural disasters that often lead to food shortages.
This is not to say that hunger in Equatorial Guinea does not exist and is not a consistent issue there. On the contrary, the country’s social safety net is weak, despite the fact that a good number of Guineans are subsistence farmers. About 17.5 percent of the population, or 1.9 million people, are food insecure. Furthermore, natural disasters such as flooding are a continual threat to agriculture.
Additionally, the 2014 Ebola outbreak exacerbated a number of issues in the country, including ethnic tensions and economic inequality. Equatorial Guinea also has a refugee crisis brought on by the instability of some of its neighbors, causing about 4,800 refugees to relocate to the country and putting an extra strain on food and resources.
Income inequality is another less-discussed contributor to hunger in Equatorial Guinea. While the country has a wealth of oil, diamonds and gold, the riches generated from these resources have mostly stayed with the most wealthy members of Guinean society, including authoritarian president Teodoro Obiang. Obiang’s tenure has been marked by political repression and a dim record on human rights.
One of the biggest issues Equatorial Guinea has faced is a lack of visibility to the wider world. Activists are hoping to bring the country’s situation to light, and by extension hunger in Equatorial Guinea. The writer and intellectual Juan Tomas Avila Laurel has written the president of the Spanish legislature requesting that Spain help Equatorial Guinea transition to democracy. Spain and France have brought several corruption cases against members of the government, including one of Obiang’s sons.
Hunger in Equatorial Guinea, exacerbated by corruption, remains a serious issue. Still, it is clear that the situation no longer persists in the dark, and the attention of the world is now on this African nation.
– Andrew Revord