The cradle of humanity challenged by poverty and a continent with the greatest potential – helping children in Africa
Africa is the cradle of humanity, but today it is unfortunately also the world's poorest continent. Colonialism, civil wars, corruption and unfair trading conditions have been particularly devastating for the sub-Saharan regions. Nearly 50 percent of the population there lives below the poverty line and has to try to make a living on less than $1.25 a day.
This dire poverty has many serious consequences, especially for children. Ten percent of girls and boys die before the age of five, and six percent don't even live to see their first birthday. Twenty-six million people in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV, including three million children.
HIV and hunger, but also hope
A good education is one of the most important means of improving one's standing in life, is in short supply in Africa. Only 30 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 can read and write. Only one in three children attend school. Instead, 27 percent of children have to work to help their families survive.
One particularly pressing problem in sub-Saharan Africa is the brutal tradition of genital mutilation: forty percent of women are circumcised; and this figure is even reached 97 percent in Somalia. Children suffer from many other forms of violence and exploitation, ranging from early marriage and sexual violence to being sold into slavery or the sex trade.
But there is also hope. Many of Africa's problems have been alleviated in recent decades. The mortality rate of children under the age of five, for instance, has been nearly halved since 1990. Improvements in health care and educational opportunities have been introduced.