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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
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 Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs