Tuesday March 19, 2019
Close to 11 million people in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia face acute food shortage. The horn of Africa has experienced prolonged drought, leaving many people who are already living in poverty with nothing to eat.The prolonged drought is coinciding with America’s proposal to reduce funding for lifesaving food aid. At the beginning of March, the U.S. Congress submitted the 2020 fiscal year to the White House, and they recommended a 24% slash in foreign aid.
A recent report from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSN) indicates a worsening situation, with crop failures expected to hit 30% in the coming months.
The conditions are deteriorating as families who rely on land remain the worst affected. The current US administration’s decision to slash aid financing could abandon many in the region just when humanitarian aid is most needed.
The situation is also worsened by climate change. Scientists and activists warned us climate change would intensify or cause this type of crisis. Recent studies suggest it has worsened the situation.
Pastoralist communities in the region are also affected. The extreme heat during drought is deadly to livestock. Many herders say things have never been this bad. Many have lost their livestock and are living in temporary shelters where they depend on humanitarian aid, that the Trump led government threatens to slash.
80% of those who live in the Horn of Africa are subsistence farmers and the drought has destroyed their crops leading to tragic consequences.
The USAID-funded food program benefits more than 1.5 million people in Ethiopia, and without it, the number will increase.
Political Instability Link:
The Horn of Africa experience some form of political instability, which is a major source of concern as the drought worsens.
Emergency food aid can’t be delivered to those living in such areas. For instance, In Ethiopia, ethnic violence has displaced more than 4 million people in this period of extreme drought. Out of this, 25% comprise the ethnic Gedeo-about a million. According to the Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) report published last week, 3 to 4 people die daily due to drought.
The Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed confirmed to the affected on Sunday that food distribution in the area didn’t go as planned due to insecurity. Apparently, the group that caused the displacement of millions seized relief food for their own use.
In Sudan, a country that has experienced some of the worst famines in recent years, the non-profit entities that helped during such times were kicked out.
Somali is still unstable despite AMISOM troops weakening the Al-Shabaab. Many are still unable to go back to farming because of the lack of rainfall. When the rain comes, it is excessive and destroys the little that’s available.
So, what should be done?
For some reason, countries never learn. For instance, in Kenya, the meteorological department warned of an impending drought. This has been the case for years now. But it seems our governments lack a clear framework of dealing with this perennial menace, even as we continue to lose innocent lives. Something that can be avoided with proper planning.
Bad governance, nepotism, and corruption are the cause of many problems; especially in Africa where disaster management is just but a phrase.
But here’s what should be done:
- People are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. The UN says it needs about %1.9 billion to help those affected. The international community must rise to the occasion.
- Leaders must show commitment to prevent this situation from worsening in the future. Programs and strategies of alleviating this menace must be put in place, and they must succeed. Kenya tried the Galana Kulalu irrigation scheme that was riddled in corruption. No one has been prosecuted so far.
Programs touching on food security and water storage should be at the top of government agendas moving forward.
- It’s about time people took the climate change issue seriously as it’s threatening the future of humanity. The worsening drought, coupled with limited rains and food scarcity in some areas is an indicator the situation will worsen.
Prolonged drought remains a major source of concern in the Horn of Africa, partly due to human activity, and partly due to natural causes. Nonetheless, action must be taken now before the situation gets out of control.