Local Perspectives on Poverty, Hunger, and Environmental Education in Africa
This blog was written by Mariam Merry Kabamba and Wilmont Benkele.
Environmental issues have worsened the impacts of poverty and hunger. These three problems—environmental issues, poverty, and hunger—require education to surmount. Africa seems to have the biggest portion of poverty, hunger, and a lack of education, and unfortunately, the lack of education hinders people’s ability to come up with the best solutions. Poverty and hunger, and now the rapidly emerging climate change impacts have brought an added global problem that urgently requires solutions and attention.
Shared Experiences, Ideas, and Solutions on Poverty, Hunger, and Environmental Education
It's evident that poverty and hunger are putting a heavy load on the destruction of the environment. What hinders access to education in Africa? Many people in our communities have pointed to the following:
- Distance to school. Children cover many kilometers going to school, and this is difficult for many students, especially the little ones.
- Poor quality learning environment in schools, especially in rural schools
- Poor school infrastructure
- Overcrowding. This is mainly due to population growth, mainly in urban areas.
- Poor quality learning processes, for example, untrained teachers and school management.
- Poor quality content
- Outdated curriculum
- Poor sanitation. This was more of a challenge during the COVID-19 period especially.
- Violence in school
Other causes observed for limited access to education are:
- Gender issues that worsen unequal access to education, especially for girls.
- Religion. This is sometimes an obstacle.
- Instability exacerbated by armed conflict or war.
- A number of decisions in the education sector are mostly politicized.
Poverty, hunger, and environmental education intermingle with each other in Africa. The question on our minds is, are there any solutions?
From shared experiences and ideas, yes there are. Every one of us can be part of the solution when these problems challenge the community. The following are suggested ideas for addressing and mitigating hunger.
- Donate food or money if readily available to food security banks or a local authority.
- Volunteer in local hunger relief campaign initiatives and strategies that aim to push back hunger. Be part of groups and associations designed to heighten awareness about hunger.
- Start sustainable, grassroots, women and youth-focused food security strategies in spaces such as women's clubs and young farmers' clubs in schools.
- Improve systems and behaviors that help to sustain and empower people to mitigate hunger
- In some countries, where some crops are grown as cash crops for export, there should be a deliberate government policy to prioritize food before trade.
- The acquisition of land to grow food is critical. The right to land ownership must be clear. In some countries, women and youth have no rights or processes to land ownership. Traditional and cultural leaders, as well as legislators, must look into the matter to ensure equitable access to land ownership.
- Re-distribute national wealth which requires government intervention.
- Improve urban farming and land use to help provide food security. Release more land for planting trees to sustain the environment. Maintain and improve livestock husbandry, fish farming, and vegetable growing.
- Children living in rural areas may be surrounded by farmland crops for kilometers on end. But in that very community, children can still be starving. Coupling food security with education is very important.
- Empower women. In some countries, women have no access to credit facilities. When women have the resources to provide for themselves and their families, they elevate their communities.
- There should be access to education for all, even those with disabilities. To be disabled is not an inability. This requires government intervention. We are all agreed that education reduces poverty as it increases individual earnings and reduces economic inequalities.
We must be mindful that hunger and poverty do not disappear from one-time actions. Education is the key that would open the door to solving the problems of poverty and hunger.
Ending world poverty and hunger is one of the greatest challenges of our times. Poverty, food security, and hunger are long-term standing problems facing communities and family households. Education has the power that will pull many countries out of poverty.
Promoting education in Africa would reduce poverty and hunger tremendously. Education is an important tool and an equalizer in a community. It's very useful in everybody's life. It helps us to find solutions to poverty and hunger which contribute to some of the social, health, and economic problems, even political problems in Africa. Acting on the solutions above would greatly assist communities to address hunger and sustainably steward the environment.
Read more stories from environmental educators in Africa who are identifying and implementing solutions today.