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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid