Posted on

East Africa Famine Appeal: The need in drought-striken areas


Title East Africa Famine Appeal: The need   in drought-striken areas
Date released (year) 2011
Production company SOSchildrenUK
Length 1.52MINS
Location East Africa
Keywords/tags Famine, food insecurity, climate,   aid, poverty
Link to film
Synopsis SOS Children have launched an   Emergency Relief Programme for families and children affected by drought in   Somalia, providing food, water and medical care for thousands of families. We   are expanding our operations into Kenya and Ethiopia.
Reviews/discussion From

East Africa drought crisis still ‘huge’

Oct   20, 2011 10:09 AM

The size of the humanitarian emergency in the   Horn of Africa remains massive, says a British politician.

Three months after famine was officially declared   in Somalia, hundreds of people, mainly children, are still dying every day,   said Britain’s International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell.

The drought and famine have forced thousands of   people into refugee camps and left 12 million people in need of aid and   750,000 at risk of death in Somalia, according to the latest figures from the   Famine Early Warning System FEWS.

Earlier this week it was revealed that British   aid is feeding more than 2.4m people across the region and an appeal by the   UK’s Disasters and Emergency Committee has raised £72m, but that is still not   enough.

With the rainy season round the corner, people   caught up in the crisis are now facing the risk of disease spreading across   crowded refugee camps.

More than 400,000 children are still at risk of   death, just in Somalia alone, Mr Mitchell notes.

British aid pouring into the region has been   concentrated on keeping people healthy. About 1.3m people have been given   jabs against measles, for instance, and 400,000 doses of anti-malarial drugs   are heading for Somalia.

Although the rains look likely to bring with them   yet more misery and death, they can also play a part in the region’s recovery   from the disaster. Funds raised by British people have helped buy seeds for   more than 200,000 people, which they will be able to plant and grow when the   weather improves.

The biggest problem, however is still actually   getting to people in need who are living inside the parts of Somalia worst   affected by fighting. Famine was officially declared in the lawless country   as far back as July. And because they can’t get aid if they stay put, the   number of Somali refugees crossing into south-eastern Ethiopia is on the   rise.

Announcing its appeal to help people hit by the   crisis DEC chief executive Brendan Gormley said earlier this week: “The   incredibly generous support of the UK public for the DEC East Africa Crisis   Appeal has made the difference between life and death for many people in the   region.

But, he warned that “the situation remains   grave however particularly in those areas of Somalia where access for most aid   agencies remains severely restricted.”

The appeal brought   in the third highest amount in charity’s 45-year history – only the Asian   tsunami (£392m) and the Haiti earthquake (£107m) raised more.


From Oxfam:

Climate change increasing poverty and vulnerability in Ethiopia

Oxfam Press Release, Published: 22 April 2010

Small-scale   farmers and pastoralists in Ethiopia are likely to bear the brunt of the   negative impacts of climate change in the region, which will include   increased poverty, water scarcity, and food insecurity, according to a new   Oxfam International report released today.

The international development agency’s report, “The Rain   Doesn’t Come on Time Anymore: Poverty, Vulnerability, and Climate Variability   in Ethiopia,” was launched at a special Earth Day celebration organized by the   Climate Change Forum-Ethiopia in collaboration with other environmental   organizations. While Ethiopia has always suffered   from great climatic variability, including droughts that have contributed to   hunger and even famine in the past, the report details how climate change is   set to make the lives of the poorest even harder.

A country of farmers

“People who are already poor and marginalized are   struggling to cope with the added burden of increasingly unpredictable   weather,” said Abera Tola, Oxfam’s Horn of Africa regional director. “It is   getting harder and harder for families and communities to bounce back from   ever-changing, inconsistent weather affecting their livelihoods, and many   have been forced to sell livestock or remove children from school – coping   mechanisms that only increase the cycle of vulnerability.”

Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world   and 85 percent of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood.   The agricultural sector is especially vulnerable to the adversities of   weather and climate since it is rain fed, done using relatively basic   technologies, and on tiny plots of land.

Women are hardest hit

“From the Rift Valley to Tigray, farmers and   pastoralists around the country have shared with us the toll that the   changing weather is having on their communities, from ruined crops to dying   cattle,” said Tola. “Even relatively small shifts in the growing season, can   spell disaster for the poorest farmers and pastoralists who are already   struggling in poverty.”

Women and girls in particular are disproportionately   affected by climate variability. In times of crisis, women tend to stay home   with their children, while men move away to look for alternative means of   survival. Women also have fewer options to find other ways of making a   living, especially since women’s literacy rate is not even half of that of   men. Women are also not given a say in household decisions and are frequently   without cash savings or assets to sell to buy food and other basic items.

“The rain doesn’t come on time anymore. After we plant,   the rain stops just as our crops start to grow. And it begins to rain after   the crops have already been ruined,” Sefya Funge, a farmer in Adamitullu   Jiddo Kombolcha district in Ethiopia told Oxfam. “Because of a lack of feed   and water, most of my cattle have died. The few that survived had to be sold   so that we could buy food to live on. As I no longer have the means to   support my family, only three of my eight kids are still with me. Losing our   assets was bad, but the fact that our family is separated is devastating.”

Coping with climate change

With some assistance from non-governmental   organizations and the government, small-scale farmers and pastoralists are   adopting a variety of coping mechanisms, according to the report. In the   farming areas, many are shifting to more drought tolerant crops and   varieties, improved forest management practices, diversified energy sources,   and alternative means of income from off-farm activities. Pastoralists have   also divided pasture into wet and dry season grazing areas to better manage   risk, while others have changed the composition of their heard from cattle to   camels and goats, which can better tolerate dry, hot weather.

Poverty, limited resources, little alternative sources   of income and livelihoods, lack of knowledge and expertise, and the absence   of appropriate public policies and financing, increase vulnerability and   decrease people’s capacity to cope.



From The Guardian’s   Poverty Matters Blog:

Is climate change to   blame for famine in the Horn of Africa?

It’s impossible to   answer with a simple yes or no – but here’s a summary of what we think we   know so far.

A herd of goats at Dadaab   refugee camp in Kenya. The current drought conditions have been caused by   successive seasons with very low rainfall. Photograph: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

So is famine in the Horn of Africa linked to climate change or not?   The question arises whenever “extreme weather events” – hurricanes,   floods, droughts – hit our TV screens. It’s impossible to answer with a   simple yes or no – but here’s what we think we know so far.

The current drought conditions have been caused by successive seasons   with very low rainfall. Over the past year, the eastern Horn of Africa has   experienced two consecutive failed rainy seasons. According to surveys of   local communities, this is part of a long-term shift. Borana communities in   Ethiopia report that whereas droughts were recorded every six to eight years   in the past, they now occur every one to two years.

Meteorological data back up the picture on temperatures: mean annual   temperatures increased from 1960-2006 by 1C in Kenya and 1.3C in Ethiopia,   and the frequency of hot days is increasing in both countries. Rainfall   trends are less clear: according to the Intergovernmental   Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report, there are no   statistically significant trends in rainfall. However, more recent research   suggests that rainfall decreased from 1980 to 2009 during the   “long-rains” (March to June).

The historical record does not “prove” that the current drought   is directly attributable to climate change. True, there are now a few cases   in which scientists have been able to estimate the extent to which man-made   climate change has made a particular extreme weather event more likely, but   these exercises require reliable long-term weather data that only exists for   Europe and North America – no such studies as yet exist in the case of the   current drought.

What about the future? Globally, climate change modelling projects an   increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events like   droughts and floods. In the absence of urgent action to slash global   greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures in the region will probably increase   by 3C-4C by 2080-99 relative to 1980-99.

But again, rainfall projections are unclear. Most modelling, as reflected   in the IPCC’s last assessment, suggests more rain will fall in the east   Africa region as a whole, with an increase in “heavy events”   (sudden downpours, so more flood risk). However, some recent studies suggest   rainfall will decrease, particularly in the long rains.

The combination of higher temperatures and more unpredictable rains is   alarming for food production. One recent estimate published by the Royal Society suggests much   of east Africa could suffer a decline in the length of the growing period for   key crops of up to 20% by the end of the century, with the productivity of   beans falling by nearly 50%.

The conclusion? Attributing the current drought directly to climate   change is impossible, but in the words of Sir John Beddington, the UK   government’s chief scientific adviser, in a talk at Oxfam last week,   “worldwide, events like this have a higher probability of occurring as a   result of climate change”. Moreover, unless something is done, the   current suffering offers a grim foretaste of the future – temperatures in   east Africa are going to rise and rainfall patterns will change, making a bad   situation worse.

What to do? First, remember that while the drought is caused by lack of   rainfall, famine is man-made. As the Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya   Sen famously observed, famines do not occur in functioning democracies. The   difference between the minor disruption of hosepipe bans and the misery in   the Horn is down to a failure of politics and leadership. It is no accident   that the communities worst affected by the drought are not just those   blighted by conflict but also by decades of official neglect and contempt   from governments, which see pastoralism as an unwanted relic of the past.

Second, the famine shows the extreme vulnerability of poor people to   weather events like failed rains. Governments and the international community   have to save lives now, but also act to reduce that chronic vulnerability,   building local ability to manage the drought cycle, improving the flow of   data, information and ideas for adapting to climate change, and drastically   increasing long-term investment in smallholder agriculture and pastoralism,   which have shown they can provide a decent life for millions of east   Africans, provided they are supported (rather than ignored) by governments.

Beyond helping east Africa and other vulnerable regions adapt to   impending climate change, it is of course also incumbent on the rich and   emerging economies to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that cause it. Fail to   do that, and all attempts at adaptation are likely to offer only temporary   relief.

• Oxfam last week published   a briefing on   climate change and drought in east Africa

Posted by

Duncan Green   , Monday 8 August 2011 07.00 BST

Links to other resources

More from Poverty   matters blog on


2 responses to “East Africa Famine Appeal: The need in drought-striken areas

  1. Pingback: East Africa food crisis appeal 2011 | African Environmental Justice: Documentary films

  2. Pingback: When The Water Ends: Africa’s Climate Conflicts | African Environmental Justice: Documentary films

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s