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

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail 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.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More