Fed The Famished

Praise for quick US response in the Horn of Africa

A tragedy averted does not make the news as often as a tragedy.

But when 16 million people are saved from famine, it's hard not to take notice.

So both notice and praise should be given to the United States government for its swift donation of food in recent months to the Horn of Africa, where a long drought and a civil war left millions at risk.

The food - mainly excess grain from abundant harvests in the Midwest - met more than 75 percent of the need in that northeast corner of Africa, making up for a shortfall in promised donations from Europe.

Two lessons were learned from this tragedy-prevention: One, international efforts to detect signs of potential famine and then organize a rapid response can work. Two, the US has not forsaken Africa despite the appearance of hopelessness on that continent and the 1994 incident in Somalia when American troops were killed.

Assisting the relief effort, especially in hard-hit Ethiopia, was a return of rains and an end to that nation's border war with Eritrea.

Worldwide, both aid and development have reduced the number of people lacking food by about 14 percent over the past three decades. Still, more than 800 million people remain malnourished.

The world has enough food to feed everyone. But it takes the kind of generosity and expertise shown toward the Horn of Africa in meeting this basic need.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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