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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs