News / Africa

Warnings of Horn Drought Came Early

In Kenya, Turkana women and their children wait to receive relief food supplies near the Kakuma Refugee Camp, northwest of Kenya's capital Nairobi, August 8, 2011
In Kenya, Turkana women and their children wait to receive relief food supplies near the Kakuma Refugee Camp, northwest of Kenya's capital Nairobi, August 8, 2011
Joe DeCapua

Experts say there was plenty of warning that the Horn of Africa was likely to experience severe drought. Nevertheless, millions of people are now at risk.

Scientific experts have been saying for years that the Horn of Africa was vulnerable. The warning came with recommendations to prevent drought or lessen its effects. But to a large extent, those recommendations remained just that -- recommendations.

Regrets

“Like everyone, we are very much moved by the image and news that we are seeing from not only Somalia, but also the whole Horn of Africa,” said Mansour N’Diaye, chief of cabinet at the Secretariat of the UNCCD – the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. He described what’s happening in the Horn as “an illustration of regret.”

“Regret that most of the knowledge that has been accumulated over years, not only from the UNCCD, but also from other relevant international organizations, about drought and how to address the issue of drought. All those. We are unfortunate to say that they are not very much put to the attention of policymakers for them to take preventive measures,” he said.

We warned you

Last January, meteorological experts warned that the Horn of Africa was on the verge of severe drought.

“So no one can say that we didn’t know. It was known, including by policymakers. The fact of the matter is that perhaps priorities were given to something else. And therefore, one has to face the fact that policy failures are here very much at stake,” he said.

And that wasn’t the first warning. The UNCCD official says a warning was issued as far back as 2007 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

N’Diaye said, “Go back to the IPCC report. It was clearly stated by scientists that have studied the issue of climate change that for nearly 10 years areas that are prone to drought – and we are talking about areas like those in the Horn of Africa – will experience more frequent droughts and more intense droughts of a much wider distance. And near droughts will emerge where they never existed before. This is in the IPCC report.”

Has time run out?

Now that drought has firmly taken hold in the Horn of Africa, with famine in parts of Somalia, is it too late to act?

“We cannot say that it’s too late,” he said, “because we have the knowledge as to what is it that one should do to better manage land, including in the dry lands. And therefore the UNCCD is there to facilitate, particularly in countries like those in Africa, precisely the implementation of their action programs to combat desertification.”

N’Diaye said lands affected by desertification can be reclaimed. If they were fertile once, they can be again.

“It takes time,” he said, “but it is time which is valued to be invested in. Because in the end, what is at stake is precisely to improve the livelihoods of those inhabitants from the dry lands, like those in the Horn of Africa.

That investment, he says, requires political will.

Recommendations for dealing with the drought include a political solution to Somalia’s conflict. Also, U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification experts and others call for greater investment in smallholder farms, empowering community-based organizations to manage the land, addressing land ownership and land degradation issues, and rolling out comprehensive national action plans on drought prevention.

In November, talks will be held in Casablanca on creating better ways to share drought information. The meeting is being organized by the UNCCD, the World Meteorological Organization, the U.S. National Integrated Drought Information System and Morocco’s national meteorological service.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
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.

All About America

AppleAndroid