Worst drought in 60 years hitting Horn of Africa-UN

June 28th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

GENEVA, June 28 (Reuters) – The worst drought in 60 years in the Horn of Africa has sparked a severe food crisis and high malnutrition rates, with parts of Kenya and Somalia experiencing pre-famine conditions, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

More than 10 million people are now affected in drought-stricken areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda and the situation is deteriorating, it said.

“Two consecutive poor rainy seasons have resulted in one of the driest years since 1950/51 in many pastoral zones,” Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told a media briefing.

“There is no likelihood of improvement (in the situation)until 2012,” she said.
Food prices have risen substantially in the region, pushing many moderately poor households over the edge, she said.

A U.N. map of food security in the eastern Horn of Africa shows large swathes of central Kenya and Somalia in the “emergency” category, one phase before what the U.N. classifies as catastrophe/famine — the fifth and worst category.

Child malnutrition rates in the worst affected areas are more than double the emergency threshold of 15 percent and are expected to rise further, Byrs said.

High mortality rates among children are reported, but she had no figures for the toll.
Drought and fighting are driving ever greater numbers of Somalis from their homeland, with more than 20,000 arriving in Kenya in just the past two weeks, the U.N. refuge agency UNHCR said on Friday. It voiced alarm at the dramatic rise, noting the average monthly outflow had been about 10,000 so far this year.

Almost half the Somali children arriving in refugee camps in Ethiopia are malnourished, and those arriving in Kenya are little better, Byrs said.

U.N. humanitarian appeals for Somalia and Kenya, each about $525 million, are barely 50 percent funded, while a $30 million appeal for Djibouti is just 30 percent funded, she said.

  1. Qilin
    | #1

    What the title should actually read is, “Engineered famine developing according to plan”

    Why is this even news? Its the same story over and over again. Poor Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya pushing the empty basket around the world begging for help. Just exactly how many food crisis does the horn of Africa have to suffer before people will wake up and say, “What are we doing wrong?”.

    Let us take that $525 million dollars for example. The U.N is not going to spend that money on African soil. No it will be spent on western soil strengthening the western markets, and businesses. Reality is, AID money to Africa means buying western products on our behalf, then footing us the bill.

    There is no incentive either in the U.N or the West to actually FIX any problem in Africa. The business is too lucrative to shutdown by fixing it. U.S. law requires that food aid money be spent on food grown in the U.S. Yes, all that money in AID, goes to support the western Agro-industry and transportation industry. “U.S. Government Accountability Office reports show that of the nearly $2 billion a year allocated to foreign food aid, more than half of the funds are spent on transport, not the food.” When will Africans WAKE UP. AID was never meant as a way for Africa to grow, but for the West to grow.

    Just how ridiculously easy is it to fix the food crisis in the horn of Africa? Maybe we should ask Saudi Arabia who has leased tens of thousands of hectares to grow food for their country? Or China which is planting heavily in Ethiopia and together with Saudi Arabia will have exported back to their countries over 1 million tonnes of rice. Or Al-moudi, the Saudi billionaire who is exporting food to Dubai, Jeddah and other parts of the Middle East. Or Maybe the Indians who have leased tens of thousands of hectares in Ethiopia where they are growing rice, sugar cane, maize and lentils to feed their domestic market. Or the British government buying up land to grow Biofuel to meet their local demand. So far 60 million hectares have been leased, about the size of France. In case you were wondering the government is leasing land at $1(One) per hectare per year. Most leases are for 99 years.

    According to the Ethiopian government, this land grab will produce much needed jobs for Ethiopian farmers. The wages being paid on these farms are 1 birr to 5 birr, which comes to around $0.06 to $0.30 cents per day. Yes, .06 to .30 American cents per day.

    Would someone explain to me, for the love of God, how the Chinese, the Indians, the British, the Saudi’s and other middle eastern countries manage to feed their citizens off of Ethiopian soil in mind boggling proportions AT THE SAME TIME, While Ethiopians beg for food?

    Did you know when the U.N get the $525 million in full, they could buy 2 million hectares of land in Ethiopia for 99 years with only $300 million dollars. That is the total area mass of Belgium in which 11 million Belgians people live. They could have that for 99 years. They could then move the affected 10 million Africans to that area to work the land as their own. $100 million dollars could be used to easily install the necessary agricultural infrastructure, just like India, Saudi Arabia, etc did. With the remaining $125 million dollars, what to do? Google just invested $100 million to build the worlds largest Wind Farm that will produce 845 megawatts of energy – enough to power more than 235,000 homes. With $125 million they could beat Google and hold a World Record in clean energy all the while eliminating famine once and for all!

    So the question is will the West, and the Ethiopian Government, give these Africans the gift of land for 99 years in their own name, infrastructure to irrigate and farm their own land, and a World Record in clean energy?… Or will they come with the gift of free rice, while injecting half a billion dollars into their own market in our name? Like they did when the World Food Program raised $285 million dollars in 2009 for Ethiopia?

    If History should teach us anything, it is the latter.

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