Monday, May 27, 2013

Roger Thurow looks at the effects of famine on Horn of Africa - Telegraph


Ahead of his appearance at the Hay Festival, Roger Thurow, author of The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change, gives an insight into the devastating effects of malnutrition.

15-year-old Hirgaso (left) has suffered the consequences of the 2003 famine.
15-year-old Hirgaso (left) has suffered the consequences of the 2003 famine. 
In the first year classroom of Shemena Godo Primary School, in Boricha,Ethiopia, three dozen children study the alphabet. On a black chalkboard, teacher Chome Muse highlights the letter B and writes the combination with each vowel. Ba, be, bi, bo, bu.
The pupils, crowded two or three to a desk, listen to the sounds. I am watching one boy in particular, Hagirso, who sits at the back of the room. He copies the letters in his tattered notebook and proudly shows me his first attempts at writing, a triumphant milestone in early childhood development.
Hagirso, though, is no child. He is 15 years old. I first met Hagirso ten years ago during the Ethiopian famine of 2003. He was in an emergency feeding tent, on the verge of starvation and weighed just 27 pounds when his father carried him to the clinic. The doctors and aid workers feared he wouldn’t live. Miraculously, Hagirso survived, but the damage of severe malnutrition had been done.
When I next saw him, five years later on the family’s small farm in the southern highlands, Hagirso had gained weight but not much height. He was then ten years old and just over three feet tall. He wasn’t in school. “He isn’t able,” his father, Tesfaye Ketema, told me. “I can see from his growth he isn’t so good. He is stunted.”
Stunted. It is a harsh, ugly word. Often spoken in clinical, analytic terms – “standard deviations” of height and weight, “suboptimal” brain development – it is the manifestation of malnutrition: diminished physical and mental capacity. It is a word that has been heard more frequently in recent years, as the world confronts the shame and the peril of hunger in the 21st century.

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Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change &  Liberation  in Europe, Africa and Americas. He has obtained  Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva.   A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies.  He wrote on the  problematic of  the Horn of  Africa extensively. He Speaks Amharic, Tigergna, Hebrew, English, French. He has a good comprehension of Arabic, Spanish and Italian.