Spending on nukes vs. famine in East Africa

World leaders will be spending $1 trillion on nuclear weapons in the next 10 years and money will not just seem out of the blue. They will cut essential services such as education, health care, social services and jobs. Mostly nuclear capable nations will spend more to enrich themselves including India and Pakistan. One may question that there is unemployment crisis in USA and Russia, poverty in India, social instability in Pakistan, and bailout in Europe; then what’s the point of pointless expenditure on nukes. Well, no straightforward answer to that question is known. The dynamics of power relation is complicated and politics apparently appears as the dirtiest means to sketch these relations.

Photo credit: AP (at spiegel.de)

On the other side of world, famine has been officially declared in Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan and more than 10 million people are affected. Wide spread crop failures have forced people to move elsewhere. Malnourished children are dying at dramatic rate as David Bull said, “They are now dying at a rate of more than 250 per day – that’s one child every six minutes.” There are tons of problems like failed governance, rebellions, long-lasting conflicts, reconciliation and reconstruction of state, but its time for survival of drought affected communities. And the priority is to supply food and nutrition to combat death of each child at every six minutes.

Nuke owners may imagine these famine and poverty affected people in the African zone as helpless vulnerable groups looking for reliefs covered in flies. The potential of this great continent with natural as well as cultural richness might have been buried in the colonial past. The fact is, whatever potential the continent have had, a fatal famine takes lives there now. Wealthy nations may have more interest in nukes than to stop this tragedy. US alone spent $1.2 trillion for war in last decade. Average human may ask that this money could reduce poverty in the continent or elsewhere but asking like that could be termed as ‘wishful thinking’.

Britain has spent £90m, German government could give aid up to €14m, and Canadian government has contributed about $22 million in humanitarian assistance to the region this year. UN officials said the World Food Programme had received 60 per cent of the $500 million (£300 million) it appealed for to help save the lives of an estimated 10 million people. Rich nations have provided aid and relief assistance to poor nations to show their efforts and fashion of giving donations rises and falls in course of time. They offer directly to government and sometimes through international humanitarian agencies. There had been much talk about aid effectiveness, government’s transparency, and  agencies’ success-failure at achieving millennium development goals or poverty alleviation. Apart from regular programmatic intervention, in the time of emergency such as famine and earth quake, attention goes tracking aid accountability.

Nuke owners should be similarly accountable to global citizens explaining or justifying about huge spends on nuke and its impact on employment, education, social services and poverty alleviation. The reason behind wide gap between nuke-fund and famine-fund is probably nuclear power enrichment is selfishly motivated by nation state’s ambition and famine fund is self-less humanitarian need. It’s easy to afford a trillion-dollar for nuke but difficult to reach up to a billion dollar for feeding hunger affected.

Just to look at this simple fact to compare cost of one weapon and what benefits could be reached to humanity. Cost of one nuke weapon could give health care to 36,000 people, textbooks for 43,000 students, or convert 64,285 households to renewable energy. On the contrary, one nuclear weapon may cause more than trillion-dollar loss and example of such loss stands out there at Hiroshima-Nagasaki. The loss in monetary term is more than total of  summing up earth quakes at Chilli-Japan and famine in East Africa. Thus, apart from spiritual aspect of humanitarian assistance, the monetary value in terms of return for helping disaster and famine affected people is higher than the cost for piling up nukes and associated danger. Spending to stop famine in East Africa needs to get priority over spending on nuke. Let us be little naive to think like this way than to become too political.


One thought on “Spending on nukes vs. famine in East Africa

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