Africa Growth and Development

2016 Book of Resolutions, #6081

We applaud international efforts to develop a more just international economic order in which the limited resources of the earth will be used to the maximum benefit of all nations and peoples. We urge Christians in every society to encourage the governments under which they live and the economic entities within their societies to aid and work for the development of more just economic orders. (Social Principles, ¶ 165B)

The continent of Africa is gradually moving from crisis to peace, economic growth, and development. Decades of inter- and intra-state conflicts that left much of Africa’s social, political, and economic life in a shambles are being replaced by a new dispensation marked by growth and signs of development. Six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies of the past decade are in sub-Saharan Africa. A clutch of countries have enjoyed growth in income per person of more than 5% a year since 2007. Based on UN reports, the continent is expected to have 5% to 7% income increase in years to come. One of the challenges facing Africa currently is to transform economic growth into development, job creation, and into improved well-being of its citizens. Despite significant economic growth, Africa is still braced with catastrophic diseases like HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and Ebola. The 2014 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report indicates that:

“Despite Africa’s relatively strong economic growth performance over the past decade, many countries in the continent are grappling with several development challenges ranging from food insecurity, high unemployment, poverty, and inequality, to commodity dependence, lack of economic transformation, environmental degradation, and low integration of the continent in the global economy. Since the dawn of the new millennium, African governments and the international community have adopted various initiatives aimed at addressing these development challenges and improving living conditions on the continent. At the continental level, African Heads of State and Government adopted the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which emphasizes African ownership of the development process and outcome, and calls for interventions in the following priority areas: agriculture and food security, regional integration and infrastructure, climate change and environment, human development, economic governance, and capacity development and women empowerment.”

Africa is blessed with people of remarkable energy, spirit, and ingenuity. The continent is rich in natural resources needed by the entire world. The spread of democracy and the growing strength of African civil society offer a real chance to tackle the root causes of poverty and conflict. Social movements and organizations throughout the continent have developed to hold governments accountable and to build societies where public institutions and policies will guarantee cultural, economic, political, and social rights of all citizens. There is a call for alternative development programs based on the fundamental principles of democracy, human rights, gender equality and social justice.

The United Methodist Church in Africa is continuing to grow rapidly and is a transforming presence in many countries, influential beyond its numbers, engaging in a holistic Wesleyan ministry of outreach, evangelism, and humanitarian service. The church in Africa is part of civil society and has a strong witness to make in participating in community development; in promoting conflict resolution, reconciliation, and justice ministries; in humanitarian assistance ; and in public health and diseases prevention, including malaria, HIV/AIDS, and Ebola. The church in the United States and in Europe has a strong role to play in advocating respect for the rights of African governments and peoples to define their economic policies and priorities and for continuing to support—among other things—debt cancellation, increased humanitarian and development aid, removal of trade barriers which discourage African exports, and funding to overcome HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, Ebola, and other preventable diseases.

As Christians, our faith is in the God of Jesus Christ, who stands with the most vulnerable and oppressed people in our societies. Their well-being must serve as a guidepost for justice. God, sovereign over all nations, has made of one blood all the peoples of the earth. United Methodists, therefore, remain ever-vigilant, listening more attentively than ever to churches and movements around the world, as they struggle for social, political, economic, and spiritual development.

Therefore, we call upon the United Methodist people, local churches, and agencies to:

  1. encourage United Methodist churches to increase their participation in programs of missionary support, pastors’ salary supplementation, emergency relief, aid to refugees, reconstruction, and development through the appropriate units of the General Board of Global Ministries, regional councils of churches and the World Council of Churches;
  2. encourage United Methodists to participate in Volunteers in Mission programs and other volunteer-based projects; and educate themselves (through orientation, cultural sensitivity, and contingency planning) for working alongside African brothers and sisters to, for example, construct more schools, clinics, and churches. There is a need to emphasize the importance of preparation for the cross-cultural experience by volunteers and receiving partners. Orientation and training for both are available through the Jurisdictional VIM Coordinators and the Mission Volunteers Program of the General Board of Global Ministries. In addition, the United Methodist Seminar Program on National and International Affairs in Washington, DC, and New York City provides educational opportunities for United Methodists to learn about significant issues affecting Africa;
  3. urge United Methodist churches in Africa to advocate with government leaders in every country as to the need for people and justice to be at the center of any concerted national and international efforts toward the eradication of poverty and sustainable and equitable development on the continent of Africa. Advocacy for appropriate exploration and usage of natural resources must be undertaken so that a sustainable growth and development is guaranteed in the long run;
  4. urge United Methodists to persuade their governments to ratify the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification;
  5. be supportive of civil society in Africa as it seeks to continually review, assess and offer constructive suggestions to government leaders implementing the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Urge the General Board of Global Ministries and the General Board of Church and Society to stay abreast of the issues involved, be ready to offer resources and opportunities for United Methodist churches and the ecumenical movement in Africa to gather, study and debate the concerns;
  6. urge the General Board of Church and Society to develop a grassroots public policy action network to:
    • a. address good governance and democratization issues, including electoral rights and peaceful co-existence of political parties;
    • b. support efforts aimed at promoting the development and implementation of policies that guarantee equitable distribution of resources.
  7. continue and further develop the General Board of Global Ministries’ commitment to health care in Africa through comprehensive, community-based primary health care and public health, recognizing the role that poverty, lack of awareness, and poor sanitation play in the spread of communicable diseases across the continent. Support AIDS, malaria, and Ebola prevention training through the UMC health boards, annual conferences health coordinators, and other partners working on health issues;
  8. monitor all programs of relief and development, with special attention to these criteria:
    • a. give priority to women and children, who suffer the most during times of social unrest and war;
    • b. involve full consultation with African United Methodists, relying upon their experience, wisdom, and resourcefulness/local assets;
    • c. design programs to alleviate the root causes of poverty, oppression, and social unrest;
    • d. seek resources for program support from beyond the church to augment the church’s contribution to African social, economic, and political development;
    • e. implement methods to demonstrate financial transparency and accountability in all development programs and projects; and
    • f. program for sustainability, both in terms of ecological integrity and appropriate technologies that do not require continuing input of resources from other countries, and capacity building for local hand-off of sustainable size and scale of projects.

God bless Africa …
Guard her children …
Guide her leaders …
And give her peace.

READOPTED 2000, 2004, 2008

See Social Principles, ¶ 165A.

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Copyright © 2016, The United Methodist Publishing House, used by permission