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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid