A discussion on the possibility of a third consecutive year of drought in the Horn of Africa was held this week in Kigali, Rwanda. The three day Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum included Government representatives from the region, climatologists, agricultural experts and disaster risk managers. The meeting was hosted by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and IGAD’s Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) and supported by the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) which noted that the meeting was overshadowed by the world’s failure to act on previous warnings of drought in the region which resulted in thousands of deaths from famine, particularly in Somalia.
A global alarm has been sounded by several aid NGOs warning of the imminent but avoidable famine that could lead to the deaths of thousands in the Horn of Africa. The United Kingdom organization, The Department for International Development (DFID) reported that between 50,000 and 100,000 people, more than half of them children under five, died in the 2011 Horn of Africa crisis that affected Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
The destruction of livestock, farms, and local market systems contributed to widespread starvation. US government estimated that the greatest number of casualties were among children under the age of five years. According to reports, in the 90 days between May and July of 2011 more than 29,000 children perished.
Save the Children and Oxfam, have both criticized the current emergency response systems operating in West Africa and the Sahel as seriously flawed and thus ill-equipped to manage the impending food shortage crisis.
"Early warning systems in the Sahel region show that overall cereal production is 25% lower than the previous year and food prices are 40% higher than the five-year average. The last food crisis in the region, in 2010, affected 10 million people," the report warns. (Source: Oxfam)
- Call for urgent action in Sahel to prevent humanitarian emergency (guardian.co.uk)
- VIDEO: Oxfam warns of West Africa crisis (bbc.co.uk)
- 13 million people 'threatened by food crisis in Africa' (telegraph.co.uk)
- Humanitarian crisis in Africa (news.smh.com.au)
- Drought disaster threatens 13 million (independent.co.uk)
- In pictures: Combating drought in the Horn of Africa (bbc.co.uk)
- You: East Africa's drought: the avoidable disaster (guardian.co.uk)