Image by jon gos via FlickrEach week, I wait with great anticipation for Nicholas Kristof's opinion pieces in The New York Times. I think that his writing is insightful, full of compassion, and in some ways prophetic. In fact, I get so much out of his writing that I decided to follow him on Twitter. He has not let me down. Tonight, he tweeted the following: "We journalists focus on Africa's wars, failed states and famines. Here's a site to put it in context . . . " The site is www.seeafricadifferently.com. As the site name suggests, its creators want us to look not just at the considerable problems that the people of Africa face, but also to celebrate the progress that has been made as the world has come together to make a difference.
Here are some facts from the site:
- 30% of Africans use mobile phones; Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda have mobile coverage of over 90%.
- Eighteen countries, representing one third of the continent's population, have averaged annual growth rates of 5.5% over the past 10 years.
- Since 2003, 29 million more children have started primary school.
- In 2007, L1.6 billion was spent globally on Fairtrade certified products, benefiting 7 million farmers, workers, and their families.
- In the last five years, the number of HIV patients receiving treatment has risen from 1% to 30%.
- Rwanda has the largest proportion of women in parliament of any country in the world.
These are great statistics and should encourage all of us to believe that the goal of eliminating extreme global poverty is reachable with hard work and sufficient investment. In does not mean that we can reduce our level of commitment or think that the crisis is over, because it certainly is not, particularly given the fact that the current economic crisis if causing millions to slide back into extreme poverty. However, it is important to celebrate the accomplishments even as we confront the challenges.