Celebrate International Africa Day with us!Published: May 22, 2023 Reading time: 4 minutes
Africa is home to 1.3 billion people speaking 3,000 languages and living in 55 countries; it is the third largest continent in the world! Every year, on 25 May, we celebrate Africa Day, commemorating the independence of 18 countries in West and Sub-Saharan Africa in 1960.
It is often common shorthand to use ‘Africa’ to paint broad brushstroke across a continent; however, Africa is a diverse, vibrant continent full of contrasts and contradictions. Many states or parts of states are undergoing rapid development, but some still need regional or global support. The African Union (AU), the largest organisation uniting African states, has chosen the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as this year's theme. The (AfCFTA) highlights the importance of mutual cohesion and the positive impact such cooperation can bring.
Certain African countries—and, therefore, a significant percentage of the world's population—face incredible difficulties, often not of their own making. Whether it is the effects of climate change, which significantly affects access to water resources and agriculture, extreme poverty and related malnutrition, or the inability to obtain work or education. We, People in Need, work in Africa in four countries—Angola, DR Congo, Ethiopia, and Zambia—where our assistance focuses on access to safe water, education, agriculture and sustainable development support, and the fight against malnutrition.
One of the biggest challenges facing the African continent is the availability of drinking water and the ability to farm the land. In Ethiopia, we work to bring clean water to the most inaccessible parts of the country—such as the Tigray region—we build wells and encourage good hygiene habits among the people. We also run an agricultural support project which teaches farmers how to make their own vermicompost; this allows them to grow environmentally friendly vegetables and fruit and saves them from buying expensive fertilisers.
Everyone has the right to education. However, this right is hard to come by in some parts of the world. Women and girls, in particular, are often excluded from the education system, as are minorities or people with disabilities. But education opens the door to better jobs and social change. More than 25,000 Ethiopian girls have begun their education thanks to the CHANGE project, which has enabled them to learn to read, write and count, and also created a safe space to discuss. In Angola, Africa's first country, children in schools can learn through One World in School documentaries.
The protracted conflicts that plague many African countries also force locals to constantly relocate and seek safer havens. People often leave behind the only thing that has provided them with a livelihood—their fields. This is also why many of them, especially young children, suffer from malnutrition. In the DRC, we are trying to combat malnutrition in a few remote health zones, representing at least some safety guarantee. Our colleagues hold cooking demonstration classes where women learn to prepare nutritious porridge from locally available ingredients for themselves and their children.
The lack of sustainable energy sources is a problem for many countries worldwide. Using resources such as charcoal or firewood and the felling of trees leads to deforestation and further landscape erosion. In Zambia, we are therefore building biogas plants and the gas produced is used by local people for cooking and lighting. As a by-product, bio-oil is produced, which continues to be used as organic fertiliser in their fields.
We do all this thanks to our generous donors, the Club of Friends, donors such as the European Union, USAID, UK aid, OCHA and many others, but also thanks to cooperation with institutions such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and the Czech Development Agency.