Assist Ministries in African Cities
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How to Assist Ministries in African Cities

As the importance of the African continent continues to grow on the economic and geo-political map, so does the disparity between those who are part of the system and those who are left behind. The rural way of life and tribal traditions are being phased out by big city life, and these metropolises are quickly becoming overpopulated. These agglomerations lead to many families and even communities having limited access to basic social services, such as education and healthcare, among others. As a result, ministries working in many developing countries are working to pick up the slack and provide every single person with basic services to ensure their dignity and human rights.

African Cities under Strain

The rapid urbanization in large African cities comes at a high cost. Slums are growing at fast rates as people arrive from the countryside, with an average annual growth of four percent, the highest when compared to other regions. One of the big issues caused by this rapid change means that cities just can’t keep up with providing the services that new citizens need. This includes everything from housing, to water management, education systems and healthcare. For example, most internal migrants who first arrive in a large city will settle in the urban slums. These are chaotic, poorly built, often unsafe settlements, which generally speaking lack the majority of basic services. But with low income and little savings, safer and more comfortable housing is just too far out of their budgets. And so the cycle of poverty continues.

African slums

Bringing Real Solutions Forward

The description above may be a grim picture, but it’s far from hopeless. Much can and needs to be done; it must, however, happen in the right way starting with the communities that are living in these conditions. They know and understand their reality, and they are not helpless victims – they are people with dignity and value. What does this mean for development programs? Engaging communities in a meaningful way is important. That will ensure that the changes introduced are long lasting, well received and adopted by any project participant.

For example, SDI supports women who wish to create savings networks. This allows them to share tips on how to save money and invest in better housing or business development opportunities. They are working with local communities who are helping themselves. Instead of introducing solutions that may not work with local customs and mentality. The same applies to urban planning. There needs to be more of it, and it must be better, but it has to apply to the lifestyles and norms of the communities that will live in these cities. This type of proper planning can foster more care and security in communities, provide access to basic services and create a sense of ownership among residents.

Supporting Thy Neighbour

At African Enterprise (AE), missionaries spread the word of Jesus. They share in the belief of lending a helping hand to thy neighbor. But most importantly, creating real and functioning support systems for those who are truly in need. In the slums, AE works to improve the quality of life among local populations by working with them on slum sanitation. African Enterprise creates specialized and targeted programs in each country, depending on locals’ needs. For example, in Rwanda, they are building water tanks to provide a clean supply of water to residents. In Malawi, they offer food to flood victims. Additionally, AE works with vulnerable youth, women and men by providing skills training, education and new opportunities to these populations that may not otherwise access them. African Enterprise gives them the chance to stand on their own two feet and improve their quality of life.

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