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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid