News / Africa

East Africa Food Shortages Expected to Affect More People

Displaced Somali children line up, containers in hand, to receive food aid in Mogadishu, March 15, 2011
Displaced Somali children line up, containers in hand, to receive food aid in Mogadishu, March 15, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

In East Africa, millions people are in need of emergency food assistance because of the prolonged, severe drought. Now a U.N. agency warns that things could get worse.

Steady rain is hard to come by in many parts of East Africa.  The Food and Agriculture Organization, the FAO, says the region has been hit with two consecutive seasons with “significantly below-average rainfall.”

“In the last several years, we’re seeing that there are these recurrent droughts, which used to take several years to reoccur. But now that reoccurrence is becoming more frequent,” said Shukri Ahmed, senior economist at the FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System.

Little rain, a lot of hunger

The drought has destroyed crops and killed livestock, bringing high levels of malnutrition to the region.

“Most parts now of Somalia, parts of Kenya, parts of Ethiopia specifically, and even parts of northern Tanzania and some parts of Uganda to the northeast have been affected by less rainfall, infrequent rainfall and a late start of the rainfall. So, this compounded an already problematic region in terms of food security,” he said.

The FAO said Somalia has some of the worst malnutrition rates in the world, with one in four children in the southern part of the country malnourished. Two and a half million people in the country need humanitarian assistance.

In Kenya, nearly two and a half million people in the north and northeast are said to be unable to “meet their basic food and water needs.”  These are mainly pastoralist and agro-pastoralist areas.

In Ethiopia, the U.N. agency said millions more require emergency food assistance.  What’s more, the lack of rain is blamed for the deaths of 220,000 cattle in the Borena Zone along the southern border with Kenya.

The FAO also said water shortages are expected in the coming months in Djibouti’s capital.

Worse?

Making matters worse, Ahmed said, are rising food and fuel prices in East Africa.

Ahmed said following the high prices for food and fuel in 2007 / 2008, the region made a good recovery by 2009. Also the price of fuel stabilized.

“But now what we are seeing is that the region now is hit by this drought and now the fuel prices are going up. Given that the international prices of food commodities are also high, it actually is a lot of burden for the countries’ economies, which are already reeling from the effects of earlier years, to take on,” said Ahmed.

The FAO official said even if it started to rain steadily today, it would not solve the problems immediately. In fact, it could actually make things worse.

For example, he says there are good signs of rain in parts of Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya that could replenish water supplies and pastures. While that sounds like good news, it could cause even more problems for pastoralists.

“Pastoralists are the ones which are really affected from this drought. Some already have lost their livestock. And now the rains that came actually started killing more livestock because they’re so weak they couldn’t take it,” he said.

Ahmed added that while East African countries are implementing their own short term solutions to the drought, long range planning is needed to deal with the uncertainty of climate change.

The FAO recommended additional funds to protect and rebuild livestock herds and the distribution of drought-tolerant seeds. It also called for increased animal and plant disease surveillance and control.

It said in the short term, farmers should be taught new technologies to grow crops on dry land and better ways to conserve and use water.

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs