Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Drought in Horn of Africa close to famine stage

The United Nations is calling the world's attention to the latest drought to hit Africa. The drought is concentrated in the eastern Horn of Africa, which includes the countries of Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Ethiopia. Officials are calling this the worst drought to hit the region in over 60 years.

From the Guardian, this Reuters article records the UN announcement on the drought.

"Two consecutive poor rainy seasons have resulted in one of the driest years since 1950/51 in many pastoral zones," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told a media briefing. "There is no likelihood of improvement until 2012".

Food prices have risen substantially in the region, pushing many moderately poor households over the edge.

A UN 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 UN 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 per cent and are expected to rise further. High mortality rates among children are also reported.

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