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UN Official Calls for Tougher Fight Against African Hunger, Poverty

U.N. Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed speaks at a regional Sustainable Development forum organized by UNECA in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Feb. 25, 2020. (Columbus Mavhunga/VOA)

A United Nations official has visited Zimbabwe and called on African governments to do more to reach 2030 sustainable development goals. The U.N. is holding a forum on sustainable development in the resort town of Victoria Falls.

Thirty-three-year-old Xolani Moyo said poverty and hunger are all he thinks of when he wakes up. It has been like that since he dropped out of school after his father died, and he has not escaped the circle of poverty.

Pointing to his fowl run, Moyo said, “I only have two chickens. That’s all I have. If you want to give me something and you want a collateral, I have to surrender myself. I do not even have a decent home. There is hunger here, as we have to buy food from shops. If you plant crops, sun burns them. Or excessive rains destroy the plants.”

Xolani Moyo has been locked in cycle of poverty since his father died and dropped out of primary school fourth grade. (Columbus Mavhunga/VOA)
Xolani Moyo has been locked in cycle of poverty since his father died and dropped out of primary school fourth grade. (Columbus Mavhunga/VOA)

“I wish the old man (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) would come here, and I would tell him to create opportunities for employment. At the moment, they (government officials) give jobs to those that are close to them. If there were many employment opportunities, that wouldn’t be a problem. But they are not there,” he said, sitting next to his bedroom made of poles and mud.

He said he's concerned the building will fall on him one day because it has been raining a lot lately, and the mud is peeling off.

Mnangagwa said his government was making strides in fighting poverty and hunger in Zimbabwe by investing in renewable energy, health, education, agriculture and infrastructure.

“The African continent contributes less to climate change, yet it is the most severely affected continent. Mitigation of climate change must be prioritized. Climate change is real, as evidenced by droughts ravaging our continent. In southern Africa, we experienced the wrath of climate change through cyclones Idai and Kenneth last year in 2019, as well as the recurring droughts. For us in Zimbabwe, the ripple effects of climate change were felt in every sector of our society,” he said.

UN Deputy Secretary General Calls on Africa to do More Against Hunger, Poverty
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The United Nations says recurring droughts and the collapsing economy have resulted in more than half of Zimbabwe’s population being food insecure.

At the meeting in Victoria Falls, Amina Mohammed, the United Nations deputy secretary-general, said Africa had to do more to fight poverty and hunger.

“The absolute number of people living in poverty on the continent has been increasing since 2013, owing in part to high population growth rates. That number has now reached 428 million. Africa also has the highest prevalence of hunger, with 22.8 million people severely food insecure, many of whom go to bed hungry,” she sad.

Mohammed made a plea to do more to address such problems in Victoria Falls on Zimbabwe’s border with Zambia at the sixth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development.

She said she was also concerned about gender inequality, income inequality and a rising rate of youth unemployment in Africa.

For people like Xolani Moyo, without a job, no safe drinking water or ablution facilities, he might one day smile to know that some people are concerned about his plight. But he wants action taken soon.