News / Africa

Famine Strikes the Horn of Africa

Using over 10,000 separate data points on rainfall, food prices and refugee movement, this VOA exclusive tells the story of how Somalia descended into famine.

 

In most years, Somalia experiences two distinct rainy seasons: one in the spring and a second, heavier one in the fall. While this pattern varies from year to year it is fairly predictable. Mouse over the years at right to see average rainfall patterns.

 
         

But last year, the fall rains never came to southern Somalia, the breadbasket of the country.

         
 

As the crops failed, food prices began to rise, especially for staples like maize, sorghum and cowpeas. And global commodity prices were already high and volatile - prices spiked in 2007-2008 and had not yet returned to pre-2007 levels when this crisis hit.

Conversely, the drought pushed cattle prices down as livestock flooded the markets. With water and forage scarce, herders had little option but to try to sell the animals rather than take the risk they would die later.

Below are the average prices for 12 different commodities from 22 cities across Somalia.

  • 2010
  • 2011
  • << >>
    Showing average values of all sampled markets.
 

You can explore prices by city below. Cities to the south saw far greater prices increases to cities in the north.

Droughts and crop failures are not unique to Somalia, but other factors make the country less able to deal with these crises. Because Somalia has a weak central government and al-Shabab dominates in parts of the country, a single shock to the system can bring disaster.

Areas where seasonal rains did not fall and commodity prices spiked fell victim to famine, and are seeing massive human migration.

This pattern of drought, food scarcity and, finally, famine has plagued the region for over 20 years. This graph shows number of Somali refugees since 1987.

This year is likely to be the worst Somalia has experienced since 1992. The Dadaab refugee camps, in northeast Kenya, currently hold more than four times the people they were designed to house. According to the U.N., about 1,500 Somali new refugees pour into Kenya each day.

Below is a graph of global Google searches for the words "Somalia" and "famine." Global interest in the story spiked after the U.N. officially declared a famine in the region, but has recently started to decline.

The camps continue to fill.

Below are news sources covering the crisis in the Horn of Africa. The first column displays tweets from journalists and aid workers in the region. The second column shows pictures from Somalia. The third links to reporting on the crisis from news outlets across the web.

Rainfall Estimates for Juba Dhexe

  • 2010
  • 2009
 
Click on a rainfall icon for more details.
Click on a market icon for more details.
 

Estimated Food Insecurity Assessment

  • Stressed
  • Crisis
  • Emergency
  • Catastrophe/ Famine

All boundaries are approximate.

For the most recent information, please visit:

 

Trendlines show average value of commodities from 2002-2011. Not all markets carry all commodities.

Click on trendline to filter markets.

Note: trendlines represent pattern directions, and not equivalent prices between different products.

 
www.flickr.com
More photos or video tagged with somalia on Flickr

Credits

  • Rainfall estimation data courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey
  • Commodity prices courtesy of Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit - Somalia
  • Famine information courtesy of USAID / FEWS NET (Famine Early Warning System Network.)
  • Programming and research by Edin (Dino) Beslagic
 
 

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid