Dear African Youth:
In most African countries hunger is all too visible. People are eating too few meals, too small helpings to fill hungry stomachs, or low quality meals lacking the vitamins and minerals necessary to build strong bodies and minds. Women and children are at particular risk for hunger and malnutrition. You can find some background information on these problems on the next page.
Although some of the statistics across Africa are encouraging, many are depressing and predict a gloomy future - unless we find the will and the way to change course. When we look at these grim statistics, let's not forget that behind the facts and figures real people are struggling to survive and hoping for improved access to and quality of food. Nations should understand and recognize these problems, and give them utmost priority.
Things can change if we take appropriate action. Impressive results from many parts of the world, including parts of Africa, tell us that with knowledge, involvement, and determination, human lives can be made better.
So what kind of knowledge do we need most? We already have a fair amount of practical and scientific information to go ahead in the right direction. But we will need continued education and research on agriculture, technology, trade, and many other issues to solve problems of hunger and malnutrition.
But we also need you. You are Africa's future and Africa needs your involvement, determination, and dedication to tackle the problems. You can help make progress a reality by sharing with us and with others your dreams, your hopes, and your understanding of how to overcome hunger. We will share winning entries with political leaders, policy advisors, civil society and business leaders, researchers, and journalists. Many of them will be participating in the IFPRI 2020 Vision Initiative Conference in Kampala, Uganda in April 2004. If your contribution wins, you will be one of the guests.
It is your turn to influence and inspire African leaders of today and to prepare yourself for the work that you can do in your lifetime to achieve a full food basket for Africa by 2020.