News / Africa

    Djibouti Reeling from Several Years of Drought

    FILE - A 2011 photo shows a Djiboutian woman with her donkeys looking for pastures in Garabtisan, a village in northern Djibouti.
    FILE - A 2011 photo shows a Djiboutian woman with her donkeys looking for pastures in Garabtisan, a village in northern Djibouti.
    Lisa Schlein
    The United Nations has launched a two-year, multi-million-dollar appeal to help one-quarter-million people in the tiny East African country of Djibouti recover from several years of persistent, recurring drought. The U.N. seeks $74 million for 2014 to break out of the country’s ongoing cycle of crises.

    Two weeks ago, two Somali suicide bombers blew themselves up along with a Turkish man in a café frequented by foreigners in Djibouti’s capital city. The international media devoted little coverage to the story, underlining how overlooked and neglected this tiny country in the Horn of Africa is by the rest of the world.  

    This is a major problem for nearly one-quarter of Djibouti’s population of 850,000 - some 250,000 people who are seriously affected by more than four years of consecutive drought.

    U.N. Resident Coordinator in Djibouti Robert Watkins is in Geneva to get international donors to pay attention to their plight and to support plans to help them emerge from this crisis.

    He says malnutrition rates have increased to 18 percent, which exceeds the emergency threshold of 15 percent. In some areas, he says malnutrition is as high as 26 percent and the rate of chronic malnutrition is 30 percent.  In addition, he says 60 percent of the rural population is suffering from malaria and diarrheal diseases. 

    “It is still a very traditional, nomadic population and the livestock has been very dramatically affected by the drought, with stocks continuing to go down," he said  "It is a drought deficit that has accumulated over the last four years and it is also resulting in a huge exodus of people living in rural areas to the capital city. The population has almost tripled in the capital city.  Now, 85 percent of the population is now living in the capital city.”  

    Watkins says the city’s facilities are overwhelmed by this huge rural influx as well as by the large numbers of mainly Ethiopian migrants that transit through Djibouti on their way to Yemen. Most of the migrants use Yemen as a portal to reach other countries in the Middle East.

    Last year, about 100,000 migrants arrived in Djibouti. Watkins says many of them are in desperate condition and in need of medical care. He says this puts great pressure on the country’s limited medical resources.  

    Djibouti’s economy grew by five percent last year, but most of the population does not benefit from that growth. The country’s income mainly comes from renting out military bases to the United States and France and from large investments for expanding the ports and building a railroad to Ethiopia.

    U.N. Coordinator Watkins tells VOA the two-year strategic plan goes beyond food and health care humanitarian projects. He says it deals with more developmental projects. The aim is to address the root causes so people will be better equipped to tackle the effects of drought.

    “The biggest issue facing Djibouti today is the lack of water," he said. "People depend on water for their livelihoods, essentially for their livestock… So, we are doing a lot of projects and so there is less waste of water.”  

    Nearly half of Djibouti’s population is unemployed.  Watkins says the strategic plan will try to address this problem in various ways. For one, the U.N. will try to reconstitute the livestock, which has been lost. But, equally important, he says is to find alternative ways for people to make a living. He says training people in the skills needed to work in the ports is one of the plans being developed.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.