By PAUL REDFERN, NATION Correspondent, Posted Thursday, June 9 2011 at 20:34
International aid agencies are warning that the drought situation is worsening in East and Horn of Africa region.The agencies have raised concern over growing rates of malnutrition and hundreds of thousands of animals dying from thirst and hunger.
UK-based development agency Oxfam issued a statement that drought had worsened “following successive failed rains.”The late 2010 rainy season failed completely in many parts of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, and now the April-May rains have also performed below average.
“Parts of North-Eastern Kenya have received just 10 per cent of the usual level of rainfall,” the agency added.
The result is that the price of staple foods “has risen to unaffordable levels for many people and weak animals and the collapse of livestock markets have reduced people’s income”. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) said large-scale emergency help was urgently needed “to save lives and treat acute malnutrition” in the region. It also stressed that the current humanitarian response was “inadequate”.
In a statement, FEWSNET said the eastern Horn of Africa “has experienced two consecutive seasons of below-average rainfall, resulting in one of the driest years since 1995”.Apart from crop failure, it said, local cereal prices remained very high.
“This is the most severe food security emergency in the world today,” the statement said.
In southern Ethiopia and some pastoral areas of Somalia, the agency said, “poor households are unable to access the basic food supplies”. FEWSNET also said recent nutrition surveys suggested acute malnutrition remained above 20 per cent in the region, and more than seven million people needed humanitarian assistance. The Kenyan Government has declared the drought and food crisis a national disaster and many Humanitarian agencies including The Northern Kenya Caucus are responding to the crisis.
BBC’s international development correspondent Mark Doyle says farmers in the region are so desperate to raise funds that they are selling their livestock at low prices.