News / Africa

Long-Term Planning Needed to Alleviate African Drought

A newly-arrived Somali family carry their supply of aid outside Dadaab, Eastern Kenya, 100 kms (60 miles) from the Somali border, Aug. 5, 2011
A newly-arrived Somali family carry their supply of aid outside Dadaab, Eastern Kenya, 100 kms (60 miles) from the Somali border, Aug. 5, 2011

August 19 has been designated as World Humanitarian Day, with this year’s focus being on the Horn of Africa drought crisis. A panel of aid workers spoke in Kenya’s capital Friday on the humanitarian response so far and predictions for the immediate future.

Most of the panelists bemoaned the fact that this latest catastrophe, in which 12 million people are facing starvation and hunger, was entirely expected.

Abbas Gullet, secretary-general of the Red Cross Society, said that Kenyan meteorological experts issued warnings more than one year ago predicting that the rains of last October and November, and those of March to May of this year, would fail.

He said he and his colleagues gave it their best shot to sound the alarm.

"When we launched our appeal in January, we were trying to tell people in the country, the government, and all other actors, early response, early recovery. But, obviously, people were not too convinced," said Gullet.

Even when the signs of drought were beginning to be seen, nothing still was done.

"We all know working here in Kenya the early warning signs have been there. Drought is a recurrent phenomenon and drought does not necessarily need to lead into excessive suffering of the people if all efforts are brought to bear on the onset of the drought," said Olivia Yambi, resident and humanitarian coordinator of UNICEF-Kenya.

She said conflict in Somalia and the resulting exodus of refugees into neighboring Kenya have been major challenges in aid efforts, and high food prices are pushing many people even living in cities to the point of destitution.

The four-person panel discussing drought  on Friday consisted of officials from the United Nations and national and international humanitarian agencies. They lauded efforts by aid workers and local partners working in very difficult and often dangerous situations to deliver much-needed assistance.

The Red Cross’s Gullet also recognized those contributing to the Kenya for Kenyans campaign, in which corporations and individuals in Kenya contribute to famine relief efforts. So far, the three-week campaign has raised over $7.5 million.

"The idea of Kenyans for Kenya was for us to realize that we must also take responsibility for our own situation because, while the international community has been generous and supportive over the years, African societies and countries and communities and people are endowed with lots of resources - both human, financial, and material," said Gullet.

Panelists stressed the need for governments and agencies to implement long-term food security strategies.

Philippa Crosland-Taylor, acting regional director for the Horn, East and Central Africa for Oxfam, said, "Only six percent of international aid goes towards agriculture. And of that, a fraction - a fraction - of that six percent is about supporting pastoralists’ lifestyles. That marginalization that is happening is the cause of some of this response that we’re having to do now."

Some long-term food security strategies that were mentioned include setting up irrigation systems, tapping underground water sources, investing in seed production, and implementing innovative agricultural practices.

VOA correspondents Peter Heinlein and Gabe Joselow reported this past week  from Mogadishu, Somalia, about the humanitarian situation there. Watch some of their  pictures.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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