Why are Africans starving?

60% of the world’s arable land is in Africa.

Mark Odecho
4 min readOct 9, 2019
Starvation and malnutrition in Africa| Wikipedia

“Do not play with your food, there are children in Africa starving!”

I have heard that saying countless times on TV and even though it may seem denigrating or belittling, I’ve come to accept it as fact. However, before you get infuriated with me for asserting that, please allow me to explain.

Most of us are familiar with the saddening 1993 photo of a child overwhelmed by the pangs of hunger in Ayod, South Sudan. While fighting dearly to hang on to life a plump vulture softly landed nearby, watched patiently and anticipated for its next meal.

It’s said however, that the boy lived and was not eaten by the vulture but died of ‘fevers’ years later.

Prior to that there was Live Aid officially opened in 1985 in London. This was a rock concert geared towards raising funds for famine relief in Africa. Prompted by what its founder saw in famine stricken Ethiopia at the time, the concert went on to raise $127 million.

Fast forward to 2019, and we are still singing the same song melodically, only the lyrics change from time to time. Billions of dollars are poured into Africa each year in form of foreign aid with the aim of alleviating poverty in the motherland.

Yet surprisingly even after all those years and all the money, poverty and malnutrition are still rampant in Africa. Most people live under $2 per day and can barely afford a single meal.

Children go to school on empty stomachs hoping to get something to eat once in school. Afterwards, they head back home only to find out that there’s nothing to eat and they go to bed hungry.

This cycle repeats itself and has devastating ripple effects. Children are torn between finding casual jobs to help their parents, early marriages or staying in school hoping that things get better. If things don’t get better a chain reaction is set off entangling generations in extreme poverty and illiteracy without a way out.

Now, let us flip the coin and see what the other side has to offer.

Africa has more than 60% of the world’s arable land. It is considered massive enough that if put into use it can feed the whole world and it’s ever growing population projected to reach 9 billion by 2050. Yet Africa still imports food and depends on foreign aid while millions languish in poverty and die of starvation each year.

Agriculture in Africa| Pixabay

So I pose the question again… Why are Africans starving? Why are we starving??

Although we may be tempted to attribute certain predicaments facing Africa to outside sources, I kindly beg to differ on this one. The answer to the question is very simple! We are starving because we have failed to take action.

Neglect and lack of planning are the main reasons why our people are starving. Africans are no longer living in the spirit of Ubuntu.

When Governments across the continent set aside billions in taxpayers’ money for agriculture, development and other infrastructural projects that never see the light of day, that right there brothers and sisters is our own doing and one of the biggest problem facing Africa.

Greed, get rich quick mindsets and corruption are running rampant in our beloved continent. So much so that our own actions coupled with certain foreign elements sustain the unnecessary need for foreign aid in Africa.

There are countries outside Africa where people are planting food in the desert yet we have 60% arable land but are being fed. It is not because we lack technology, absolutely not! Technology and science are mobile. In the age of internet and information that argument cannot hold water.

Rather it is because of pure, unwavering, solid negligence. Let us call it as it is once and for all! There is no other explanation on earth that can justify what is going on in the motherland.

We have to wake up dear beloved Africans and face our problems head on. It hurts to hear people on TV say mockingly, “Finish your food, children in Africa are starving.” But what hurts most is the fact that we surely have this blessed and massive arable land to feed all of us yet we do not use it to its full potential.

This situation will probably start changing when we begin auditing our inaction and prioritizing the well being of our people.



Mark Odecho

A writer with a passion for stories on people of African Descent.