News / Africa

East Africa’s Drought Brings Triangle of Hunger And Questions

Somalis carrying their belongings wait outside an internally displaced camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, after they fleeing from southern Somalia due to lack of food and water, July 5, 2011
Somalis carrying their belongings wait outside an internally displaced camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, after they fleeing from southern Somalia due to lack of food and water, July 5, 2011
Nico Colombant

Analysts and aid workers say a lack of proper forecasting, skyrocketing food prices, marginalized populations, extreme poverty and insecurity have turned the severe drought in East Africa into a humanitarian disaster.  

The disaster response coordinator for British-based Plan International, Unni Krishnan, is one of many among aid agency workers raising the alarm on the severity of the current situation. "As we speak today, more than 10 million people in East Africa are going through one of the worst crises in living memory and this is one of the worst droughts in the last, more than 50 years.  And children are in desperate need of food, nutrition, water and other life-supporting mechanisms. We need to act now. The situation is very, very bad," said Krishnan.

Aid workers say this year’s failed wet season has created a triangle of hunger where the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia meet. Parts of Djibouti and Uganda have also been affected.

In Somalia, aid workers say the effects of the drought have been compounded by rising food prices, estimated at more than 200 percent in the last year, ongoing conflict, and nearly inexistent health systems.

It is estimated that one in three children in southern Somalia is severely malnourished. Thousands of Somalis are reported to be fleeing into Kenya and Ethiopia on a daily basis.  Many of the drought victims were previously displaced.

More than two million young children in East Africa are reported to be malnourished, and a half million are estimated to be in need of urgent life -saving actions.

For Krishnan from Plan International, it is a sad reminder that much more needs to be done to prevent droughts from turning into disasters. “Droughts, they are a recurring phenomenon in the region, so this needs long term vision and long term responses.  We are afraid that this response is not going to be a 100-meter sprint, this is going to be a marathon race.  It is important to look at long-term disaster risk reduction measures, dealing with issues of agriculture. There are new technologies that are in place where agriculture is possible with limited water but unfortunately that is not available for that part of Africa," said Krishnan.

Krishnan says dealing with conflict, poverty, the lack of infrastructure and education are part of the solution.

Other aid workers stress more farmers should turn to resilient crops such as millet and sorghum, and also install rain harvesting tanks and drip irrigation schemes.

The co-author of a recent book about droughts, Eric Wood, from Princeton University, has also been working with UNESCO, the UN educational, scientific and cultural agency, on an experimental African drought monitoring system.

He says once it is up and running, hopefully starting in December with a base in Niger, the system could also be very important. “For central governments, for regional institutions, for external agencies like USAID, I think that they need to see large-scale patterns.  What you may see at a very local scale just may not be representative and so I think that is important to offer a regional to continental scale.  Our hope down the road is in fact to combine the monitoring part with in fact a seasonal forecasting part.”

Wood says the system could forecast severe droughts up to three months in advance, allowing for more effective disaster planning.  

The forecasting could also help African farmers deal with increasingly erratic rain patterns.

Currently, though, many aid workers, like Nicholas Wasunna, with the aid group World Vision Kenya, are expressing enormous frustration. “We need to do much more, especially in disaster risk reduction.  We need to make disaster risk reduction a political priority and invest accordingly because these scenes we should never see again.  The reality is drought will continue to be with us, but we need to do much more, much sooner," he said.

Wasunna spoke from the home of an increasingly malnourished elderly man who has been staying in bed all day inside his makeshift tent in northeast Kenya, after the drought killed all his cattle.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs