Those of us fortunate enough to be living our lives in the relative comfort and prosperity of the West may be forgiven for having a bit of a moan when petrol prices go up or a loaf of bread suddenly costs 5p more. However, imagine what it must be like in those parts of the world where incomes are so low that transport and bread take up just about all your income. Poor farmers in those countries have already been financially pole-axed by the steep rise in the cost of fuel in recent years as they rely so heavily on it for irrigation and moving equipment and produce around. On top of this people in these poorer areas now face the spectre of sharply increasing food prices following this year’s drought in America’s breadbasket states and in the Ukraine. Surging corn prices are already starting to impact on the cost of staple foods all around the world.
War-torn Yemen is just one country where the population is starting to really suffer the effects of all this. Already the poorest country in the Middle – East, around half of its 20 million souls are now firmly in the grip of starvation. They can neither find work nor afford food. People haven’t had a proper meal in weeks and are trying to survive on scraps. What is particularly heart-breaking is that parents are pulling children out of school to beg and are selling what few possessions they have just to get food for today. Perhaps most distressing of all is the growing incidence of desperate mothers and fathers finding that they have no option other than to marry their young daughters off so that the dowries can feed their families for a few more weeks.
Thanks to our own good fortune, we in the West simply cannot comprehend the desperation of people having to resort to “selling “ their daughters in order to buy bread. Most of the girls involved are no more than teenagers and, in the majority of cases, they are being sentenced to a lifetime of unhappiness. However, amazingly, it is surprising how many of these child brides readily accept their fate knowing that it is either that or watching their parents and siblings waste away from starvation.
It is sad at a time when so much effort is going into ending the scourge of forced marriages that even Mother Nature cannot be relied upon to play her part.
This blog post was contributed by guest blogger Jason Tucker of Organic Development. GJI welcomes guest blogs on topics salient to our work and mission.