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11 Facts About Africa That Aid Workers Need to Know

In Africa, civil wars and suffering are frequent phenomena. Those tragic events are still happening even today as we speak. But, we have to remember that life on the continent that houses 1.1 billion people is getting better. There is a growing number of middle-class people living in Africa, partly because of the help received in the last decades. However, there still is a lot of work to be done.

Facts about Africa that will provide insight

A few years ago, the continent best known for tragedy gained attention due to rapid economic growth and real hope. The slowdown of the global economy has curbed our enthusiasm a bit, but there are still positive longer-term trends across Africa that deserve recognition. There is still much work to be done by faith-based travelers, volunteers and aid workers. And, all these hard endeavors do pay off. The continent as a whole is improving concerning human rights, civil war, poverty, hunger, etc. But still, the facts outlined below show that Africa still needs compassionate humanitarians and aid workers.

The ultimate humanitarian traveling list

  1. The top 10 poorest countries in the world are in Africa.
    They comprise of Madagascar, Guinea, Eritrea, Mozambique, Niger, Burundi, Liberia, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. While in many cases the economy is improving, there is still much work to be done to elevate these countries to a favorable economic level.
  2. Africa’s population is the youngest among all continents in the world.
    50% of African’s are 19 years old or younger. For every 100 Africans of working age today, there are 80 children/elderly that depend on them for support. This figure, better known as the "dependency ratio," is pretty high; the global average for 100 workers is 53.9 dependents. Africa should reach a more sustainable level of 100:60 workers-to-dependents by 2055 if birthrates continue to fall.
  3. South Africa is called the “Rainbow Nation”
    A term coined by Desmond Tutu. President Nelson Mandela provided an elaboration in his first month of office when he proclaimed, "Each of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world."
  4. 1 in 4 adults in Swaziland is infected with HIV.
    Sub-Saharan Africa has the most acute HIV and AIDS epidemic in the world. In 2013, an estimated 24.7 million people were living with HIV, accounting for 71% of the global total. In the same year, there were an estimated 1.5 million new HIV infections and 1.1 million AIDS-related deaths. Many humanitarians continue to battle this terrible disease every day.
  5. In 1986, a volcanic lake in Cameroon (Lake Nyos) burped a C02 gas cloud.
    It had a devastating effect as 1,746 people lost their precious lives in just a matter of minutes. To prevent this from occurring ever again, a degassing tube that transports water from the bottom layers to the top, allowing the carbon dioxide to leak in safe quantities, was installed back in 2001. A couple of additional tubes were installed in 2011.
  6. All of Africa was colonized by foreign powers, except Liberia and Ethiopia.
    Each and every African country has a language that is used by the government and media today. Should you trace this language, you will realize that it has its roots from one of the colonization waves. The history of colonization in Africa can be divided into two stages: classical antiquity and European colonialism.
  7. Africa is the poorest and most underdeveloped continent in the world.
    The African continent has a GDP of 2.6 trillion dollars. In comparison: Europe's GDP is 24.4 trillion dollars while having much fewer inhabitants. North America's total GDP is estimated at 20.3 trillion dollars.
  8. Africa is the world’s hottest continent.
    Though not one of the most surprising facts about Africa, it is an important one nonetheless. 60% of the land surface is covered by deserts and dry lands. It’s one of the most fundamental reasons why the continent is highly plagued by drought, hunger, and poverty.
  9. Many soils in Africa are unsuitable for agriculture.
    To make matters worse, only 0.25% has moderate to low potential for sustainable farming. It is a real threat to countries that want to become self-reliant on food as it’s disabling the local population from becoming successful farmers. There is also an increase in irrigation farming which makes more land available for agriculture.
  10. Access to credit remains low in sub-Saharan Africa.
    Just a third of the adult population has a bank account. But, the onset and the rise of mobile banking in Africa is very promising. In 2011, just 42 percent of Kenyans had access to bank accounts, but by 2014, 85 percent were using mobile money transfers.
  11. The number of civil wars and violent coups is declining.
    Since the end of the cold war, the total number of armed conflicts on the African continent has reduced drastically from more than 30 to about a dozen today.