Lives together,Worlds Apart

While watching a short clip today about the Two Koreas (North and South), it got me thinking about the huge differences that exist in the world. How life in one place, South Korea, can differ so greatly from it’s northern neighbors. They are quite simply worlds apart. 

In fact only today in college, we had a lecturer talking about Nutrition and Food security in Africa and the class really made us realize the huge inequalities that exist not only around the world, but within one country.

We talked about the disparities within different regions of one country, how the capital city may have plenty of food whilst people in the countryside may be suffering from hunger and severe malnutrition.How people in Nairobi, for example, may get a lot of attention while tribal nomads dealing with a drought up in the Turkana desert may get little to no help at all from their own government.

I still find it so hard to comprehend that two images that look worlds apart may in reality have a closer link than one could ever imagine. When people think of drought or famine they think of land that resembles a dry, arid desert. Take Ethiopia for example.

When you look at the two images below, which one do you think is from Ethiopia?

Believe it or not, both these images come from southern Ethiopia. One from the south East and one from the Bale Mountains in the South West. It’s mind boggling how these places appear worlds apart, yet are in fact only a few 100 km’s from each other. Often a famine doesn’t necessarily mean there is no available food in the country; it may simply mean that the “available food” is not accessible (economically or geographically) to much of the population, a clear example of inequality within a nation.

Another thing we learned in class today was the different types of malnutrition people can suffer from, especially children. Again I was fascinated. There are two main types of malnutrition;Kwashiorkor and Marasmus. Despite fear of over simplifying these two types, Kwashiorkor makes children look fat or swollen in places, especially legs and feet, while with Marasmus children develop thinness.

(L)Child suffering from Marasmus and (R)Kwashiorkor

These variations of acute malnutrition can appear to be look very different. You would be forgiven for thinking the child on the left looks much worse off and is in much greater need of immediate feeding. You would be forgiven, but you would be very, very wrong. In reality both these conditions mean the same; that these precious children are at an extremely high risk of dying if they are not immediately treated by sophisticated feeding programmes.

I guess I have a lot more to learn about the world.


4 thoughts on “Lives together,Worlds Apart

  1. Hey Janet! Inequality in food distribution is one of the most pressing issues facing the world right now. Your program sounds interesting, thought provoking, and eye opening. Your caption mentioned that the picture on the left is the child with Kwashiorkor. Should it be the more bloated child on the right that has this condition?

  2. This is an amazing, accurate post about not only Africa, but so many parts of the world. I love that you go to these places, and highlight such important issues that never make it into mainstream media…things we all need to think about deeply in our (hopefully) quest to better the world & help those around us, near & far. You are a gypsy after my own heart! ; – >

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