By Jaylyn Osbourne, Grade 5
It is our human right to have our basic needs met. Flint, a place in Michigan, and Eritrea in East Africa are just two areas struggling to get water, food, or both. Flint’s water crisis began in April 2014, and Eritrea’s inflation started in 1999. These are only two of 20 countries struggling with not enough money or dirty water.
In Flint, Michigan, officials decided to switch the water supply from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Karegnondi Water Authority to save money for the struggling city. It was later discovered that lead entered the water, and thousands of people, including nearly 9,000 children under the age of 6, were exposed to this lead. Lead in the human body can be dangerous, and several diseases, learning disabilities, and behavior issues can occur. After two years, from 2014 to 2016, the problem was finally solved.
In Eritrea, East Africa, nearly 6 million people experience hunger. . This problem started in 2011 when inflation rates climbed. Right now, inflation will be expected to rise 5.00% by the end of the year. In 2016, the government declared that it would be changing the value of its currency, Nafkas, and demanded that people bring in all their money to the bank. They would exchange their money in Nafkahs for a different paper, but it is still in Nafkahs, just worthless. Before the currency change, 1 U.S. dollar was 45.1 Nafkahs. After the currency change, a U.S. dollar is worth 14 Nafkahs. This is the leading cause of inflation in Eritrea. Despite the drop in value of their currency, the prices of everything stayed the same. A monthly salary is approximately 500 Nafkahs, which is $37 in U.S. dollars. Because of the pandemic, they are only paid half their salary, 250 Nafkahs, and $18.5 U.S. dollars. The cost of sugar is 50 Nafkahs, which takes 50 Nafkahs away from a regular wage of 250 Nafkas. With this example, you can see how people in Eritrea have no money. Almost 60% of the population is very poor.
The UN Special Rapporteur, a person appointed by an organization to report on the proceedings of its meetings, recently sounded the alarm bell on Eritrea about the situation of hunger in the country. She wrote:
“I am concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the situation of famine and malnutrition that exists in parts of the country and is contributing to food shortages, in part due to the border closure and the restrictions on food imports currently in place. For example, recent reports indicate that disadvantaged populations in and around the towns of Massawa and Assab and in the regions bordering Ethiopia and Sudan have been experiencing severe food shortages.”