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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs