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Many children in Africa are desperate to go
to school and learn how to read and write.

But most can't - normally because
they don't have enough money.

You often have to pay school fees,
and parents don't have the cash.
Also, many children are needed to help out at home.

Walking to school
Even children who do go to school
have to walk for hours to get there.
In Zambia, Grace Simokali, nine, and her younger sister
Misozi walk for an hour and a half to get to their school.

They have to leave home early to avoid the heat
and arrive three hours before their lessons start.

No money = no school
In Kenya primary education is now free,
but parents still have to pay for uniforms,
pencils, exercise books and rubbers.

So eight-year-old Eulalia, only gets to go
to school if her mum has enough money.

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Millions of African children grow up surrounded
by wars and fighting.

In Angola, there was fighting for 27 years running,
but it's hoped that's ending now after
a peace agreement was signed in 2002.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, at least
2.5 million people have died in fighting.

Children are affected in many ways.

1) Child soldiers
They are sometimes forced to become child soldiers and fight
- even when they don't understand what the war's about.
In Liberia, children as young as seven
have been found fighting in combat.
Sometimes children are taken from
their families and forced to fight.
Or they may be forced to fight to protect their families.

2) Destroys families
Children often get separated from their family
because of war - or lose their parents altogether.

Many children are sent away from home
if the fighting is really bad.

And their fathers and brothers go off to war,
and may never return.

In Rwanda, 300,000 children have no mum
or dad and have to run their own family,
because their parents were killed in a civil war in 1993.

3) Landmines
Landmines - left over from old conflicts - also threaten children.
No one knows where they are and children are
often killed or lose limbs when they step on them.

4) Fear of fighting
The fact that war is so common also means that
many children live with a permanent fear of fighting.

Even if they don't get caught up in it themselves,
they may have permanent nightmares or worry they'll
wake up one day to find their dad and brothers gone.

Other facts about conflict
More than 11,300 kids, about a third of them girls,
have been forced to fight in Uganda

  • Seven out of every 10 kids in parts of eastern
    Democratic Republic of Congo die before their second birthday
    More than 70,000 people in Angola have lost arms or legs

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Music plays a major part in the lives of most African children.

Hip-hop is massive - especially a type of hip-hop
which has developed in South Africa called Kwaito.

Some of the Kwaito stars, like Arthur, MDU,
Trompes and Chiskop sell more records in the
African charts than the huge international stars.

One of the members of Chiskop, a guy called Mandoza,
started a massive solo career in 1999.

And younger kids are getting into Kwaito too.

One of the youngest stars is a 13-year-old boy
called Insawawa from South Africa.

There's also loads of different kinds of traditional African music.

The sounds, instruments and rhythms can
be really different from country to country.

African music is all about expressing how you feel about life,
not so much about making nice sounds,
so it doesn't often do very well in other parts of the world.

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Aids is one of the biggest problems facing
children in Africa today.
It's the biggest single killer on the continent.

The facts are terrifying:
Around 23 million Africans have Aids

In Ethiopia alone, 250,000 children under five have Aids.

The United Nations thinks Aids will eventually kill about
a third of all young people living in Africa today.

In Botswana and South Africa, up to a half of
today's 15-year-olds will die of Aids.

But it's not just about children who actually have Aids.

Around 12 million children in Africa are 'Aids orphans' -
so called because their parents have
died from Aids-related illnesses.

In Swaziland, one in 10 families are headed
by children because their parents
have died of Aids-related diseases.

They live alone in a run-down house in Lilongwe, Malawi.
They don't go to school, they live on one meal a day
at the most and struggle to find clothes to wear.

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There's not been enough rain in Africa for the
past three years.

And this is causing massive shortages of food.
When it does rain, it can cause
floods that also destroy crops.

And some countries also suffer tornadoes,
hailstorms and even frost.

The devastating effects of these extreme weather
conditions are called natural disasters.

What's to blame?
Most scientists say they're actually
the result of manmade climate change.

They blame pollution from cars and factories
for what they call global warming -
a rise in temperature of the Earth's atmosphere.

Africa now produces eight times more carbon dioxide
- the main global warming gas - than it did 50 years ago.

But the rest of the world is still responsible for 97% of it.

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Boys and girls are often treated very differently in Africa.

Girls work, boys study
In areas where there are water shortages,
it's usually the girls who have to trek for miles each
day to collect it, while the boys might go to school.

Girls as young as 10 sometimes have to
collect the water for their whole family.

Because the girls carry such heavy pots of water,
which damages their necks and back, this can lead
to them having terrible problems later in life.

Girls who go out every morning to get
water often can't go to school.

Malawi example
20% females cannot read or write
4% girls have a secondary education and
28% girls and 50% boys have under four years of schooling.

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Millions of children are starving in Africa.

Terrible droughts, floods and poverty often cause a crisis in
African countries and people don't have enough to eat.

It's estimated that around 30 million
Africans are facing famine in 2003.

Millions of children live on one meal a day, and many
of them are forced to eat grass seeds and roots.

The countries hit by the worst famines are Malawi,
Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola and Ethiopia.

Famine in Ethiopia
At least six million people are starving,
and millions more face the threat of no food.

This famine was caused by droughts.

In 1984, Ethiopia faced a terrible famine,
when more than one million people died.

The sight of thousands of weak, starving children
on TV reports inspired rock star Bob Geldof
to launch Live Aid, which raised millions of
pounds for Ethiopia from rock concerts.

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Even though many African children struggle to
find enough
food and money to live, millions of them love sport.

Football crazy
Football's really popular and some kids even use it
to make money or help educate other children.

There's a kid's football programme in Uganda
which takes kids from all backgrounds.

The academy's now formed Uganda's top under-13s
footie team, and they recently became World Champions.

Soccer star
Caroline is 14 and lives in Mathare in Kenya.
She's a local soccer star.

Before the matches, the children in the top teams
take part in local work, like cleaning up rubbish
and teaching other children about Aids.

Caroline has now won a scholarship to go
to school as a result of her good work.
Kids in some African countries make their own
footballs with plastic and bits of string

The first proper kids' football teams
were set up in Kenya in 1987

Girls find it hard to play sports in some African countries
because they're expected to stay at home and cook

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Many of us take clean water for granted.
We turn on the tap, water comes out
and we know it's safe to drink it.
This is not the case for many African children.

Many African countries are very poor and
very dry, so they get massive droughts.
Often children have to walk miles every morning
to get water from wells in other villages.

Drinking water isn't always clean, so lots of children
have terrible diarrhoea and nasty infections from drinking it.

Ethiopia is worst-hit, where only a quarter of
the popular has access to clean, safe water.

In Mozambique
Hit by a massive drought in 2002,
leaving millions of people without water.

Out in the country only half the people
have access to safe water, and

Three quarters of children have diarrhoea
and other diseases from the bad water.

In Tanzania, children spend an average of two hours a day
collecting water, although some spend up to
seven hours a day in really remote parts.

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All of the capital cities in Africa have internet access.
But fewer than one out of every 250 people
in the continent actually use it.

The African countries where the internet is most popular are:
Egypt, South Africa, Morocco, Nigeria
Most of the people surfing live in towns or cities.

Why isn't it more popular?
It's really expensive! On average, to surf the net for 20
hours costs more money than you can earn in a month.
Many kids haven't learnt to read.
They don't always have electricity -
especially in the countryside.

The government in South Africa is keen for
schools to have access to the internet -
but many teachers say they still don't have
enough books or even desks and chairs.


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Some of the poorest countries in the world are in Africa.

This affects children in all sorts of ways.
Often they don't have enough:

Drop the debt
Some countries in Africa are much poorer than others.
In Zambia, for example, eight out of 10
people are living below the poverty line.

Another big problem for these poor countries is that
they owe massive debts to other countries
which have lent them money in the past.

There's loads of campaigns for the richer countries to forget
about the money they're owed, to help Africa go forward.

One out of every two people in southern
Africa is ill because of a poor diet
Seven out of every 10 people in Malawi live in poverty
More than three million kids in Malawi have too little to eat.

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There are more different animals in Africa than
in any other continent.

How many?
60 species of ferocious meat-eating mammal,
including the cheetah and leopard.

-90 different animals with hooves
-45 types of monkey and two great apes - our
closest relatives, the chimpanzee and the gorilla.

-An astonishing 2,000 different freshwater
fish in Africa - one lake alone contains 200

-Marine mammals like whales, dolphins and porpoises.

-1,775 types of bird, including the ostrich and the eagle.
-Reptiles in the region include lizards,
snakes, crocodiles and tortoises.

If you prefer creepy-crawlies, there's
butterflies, stick insects, termites,
ants, grasshoppers, dung beetles and many spiders.

Animals in danger
Sadly several of the species in Africa are endangered.
A species is said to be endangered when
there are so few of its kind
left it could disappear from the planet
altogether and become "extinct".

Extinct means when an animal hasn't been
seen in the wild for 50 years.
Elephants are killed for their ivory tusks, which are
used for jewellery and medicine in some countries.

And although buying and selling crocodile skins is
illegal in many African countries, people still do it.

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Lots of people think of South Africa when they
think of crime in Africa.

This is because it's got one of the highest
crime rates in the world.

South Africa used to be ruled by a small group of
white people who made black people live by strict rules,
even though the huge majority of the country is black.

This system, called apartheid, ended in 1994.

But there was loads of violence and
crime because of the unfair system.

People hoped there'd be less crime after apartheid
ended, but it hasn't really happened.

Loads of violent crimes have actually gone up.

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