As President Obama begins his second term, Reverend Derrick Boykin and his organization African-American Voices for Africa are asking that he make four policies his priority to end poverty in Africa. During the last decade, six of the world’s fastest-growing economies were in Africa. This is due in no small part to assistance from the United States. Sustaining this commitment, Boykin writes, “will help create the future we want for all of our sisters and brothers — a future marked by growth, shared responsibility, and mutual respect.”
- Maintain effective development assistance and trade policies for African agriculture. It is estimated that 80 percent of Africans make their living from farming. Initiatives that help to make resources available to develop agricultural infrastructure and diversify African economies are essential for the many people that rely on farming for their livelihood. Trade policies that encourage things such as revising subsidy levels, reducing tariff limitations and strengthening smallholder farmers are essential to achieving this goal.
- Continue efforts to promote maternal and child nutrition. The group that has been affected most by rising food prices and the global financial crisis are children under the age of two. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life from pregnancy to its second birthday are critical and any harm done is often irreversible. The best way to ensure that the first two years are healthy is to promote important habits of hygiene and nutrition such as breast-feeding, healthy staple foods, hand-washing with soap and therapeutic foods for those that are malnourished.
- Reduce the African debt burden. The United States, as a world leader, should use its leverage to convince multilateral agencies such as the International Development Agency to provide interest-free loans and grants to impoverished African countries. Once African countries are free from their past debts, the growth that they are already experiencing can really take effect and push its many economies to not just survive, but to flourish and end poverty in Africa.
- Encourage standards of social responsibility. In the past, outside sources doing private sector business in Africa have been less than fair. Through regulatory policies such as the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, established at the May 2012 G-8 Summit, organizations must now be transparent about the business that they are doing in Africa. This will lessen the amount of corruption in Africa by outside sources. It is important that we continue to hold companies accountable for the business that they practice to ensure that they work in Africa’s best interest.
– Sean Morales