Efforts to improve health in sub-Saharan Africa grow with the recognition of those who work behind the scenes for communities. La Quinta de Almeida will be the name of the house for women in Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau, which Fátima Djara intends to start building with the 30,000 euro prize she received from the NGO Anesvad, thanks to her work against of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). “We are restoring the dignity of many women and girls, who thanks to this award will have the opportunity to be protagonists of their history and their lives,” said the activist during the award ceremony, on Wednesday night in Bilbao .
“We have managed to reduce the mutilation of girls between zero and four years of age from 80% to 27%,” added Adriana Kaplan, director of Wassu Gambia Kafo, an organization that was also awarded at the VII edition of the Anesvad awards, a foundation that has been promoting healthcare in Africa for more than half a century. While holding the statuette carved in the shape of moringa, an indispensable plant in ancient African medicine, Kaplan emphasizes that WGK’s fight continues. “We continue to work so that perhaps in the next generation we will talk about abandoning MFG,” he concluded the anthropologist, confident in a different future for the girls of Gambia.
These awards remind us that there are many of us who work for sustainable development in contexts that nobody looks at
The prize funds will also contribute to the work of the NGO Aztivate, which was recognized for the work of its St. Martha pediatric clinic, located in Turkana, northern Kenya. “Thank you on behalf of the children of Turkana,” said Javier Corbo, president of the organization, through a telematic message. Garbiñe Biurrun, president of Anesvad, stressed that the three awards offer hope to those who care for the health of African communities. “They remind us that there are many of us who work for sustainable development in contexts that no one looks at,” said Biurrum.
The ceremony was also attended by the Mayor of Bilbao, the city in which Anesvad began its work. Juan Mari Albutó congratulated the winners and made a call to redouble the efforts of the West in the forgotten areas of Africa: “The sustainability that we speak of in the first world implies repairing the social, economic and environmental damage left by hundreds of years of developmentalism and exploitation.”
A space for reflection from Africa to the world
The ceremony also served as a pretext to start a conversation about the current African perspective. In colloquium C.Forgotten crises: Perspectives from Africa before the changes in global geopoliticsRosebell Kagumire, Ugandan activist, writer and editor at African Feminism, and José Naranjo, West Africa correspondent for over a decade, discussed the problems and expectations of the continent.
The war between Russia and Ukraine opened the discussion. Kagumire and Naranjo agreed on the tragic economic consequences that the conflict entails for African households, where it is increasingly difficult to access essential products due to rising prices. “A bar of soap that used to cost about two dollars in Uganda now costs six,” says Kagumire, as an example of this problem.
Despite the attention that the Ukrainian conflict has had at a global level, both speakers advocated remembering the wars that have plagued Africa for a long time, and that are advancing in the midst of global indifference. “What we have seen is that the war in Ukraine has changed a lot of things for people in Europe, but for many people in Africa war has always been a reality,” the activist said.
“Recently I was in Chad, where there is an active conflict that triggers tens of thousands of displaced people. Some workers from the World Food Program told me that they have had to halve the food aid ration for the displaced, due to donors becoming tired of the crisis,” said Naranjo, who has covered the catastrophes of multiple wars. in the Sahel region, in which Chad is located. “Unfortunately, it seems that there are always other crises that are prioritized before those experienced in Africa,” lamented the journalist, who warned of at least 15 armed conflicts that the continent is currently experiencing.
In this sense, Kagumire insisted that one of the first steps that the international community must take to help Africa is to remove weapons from its territories. “I live in a country (Uganda) where a president has been for more than 30 years. That president will not leave power if NATO, Russia, the United States and China provide weapons on a daily basis,” says the woman, who insists that the path to change is the opposite. “People need food, quality health, innovation to change the world… Not all those weapons of war that have been placed on the continent,” she affirmed with conviction.
Finally, both Kagumire and Naranjo agreed that the world must look at Africa with different eyes. “Now, with all this from Russia and Ukraine, perhaps it is the opportunity to build a new order in which Africa has the representation it deserves,” Naranjo said. The writer complemented this idea with a premise: “Humanitarian aid will not be the engine of the future. We have to put justice on the table.” The Ugandan wondered about the future of her people if the paradigms are not overcome: “Where is the future of people if Africa is not taken seriously?”