photo: Oxfam East Africa/CC BY 2.0
Some updates on the ongoing situation in the Horn of Africa, where thousands of people are being forced to flee fromrecord-breaking drought and, in certain places, outright famine--all of which is, at least in part, made worse by our changing climate. According to Germany's Africa policy coordinator, foreign land grabs in the region are also not helping.
Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, nearly the size of Kansas City, Missouri at 440,000 residents (let that sink in...), is swelling by between 1000-2000 people daily, forcing 65,000 of them to live in cardboard and plastic shelters outside its boundaries.
Reuters reports Kenya's Acting Commissioner for Refugee Affairs as saying, "Maybe, we will replace the tents with housing structures."
That article explains that the government of Kenya fears the refugee camp will become a permanent settlement (it's been in exsitence since 1991, so if not permanent it's certainly solidly established) and until international pressure was stepped up there was resistence to opening up an extension to the camp to accomodate additional refugees.
As for the Chinese connection in all this, Germany's Guenter Nooke says that while "not everything the Chinese are doing in Africa is bad...in the case of Ethiopia there is suspicion that the large-scale land purchases by foreign companies, or states such as China which want to carry out industrial agriculture there, are very attractive for a small African elite." (Yahoo News)
A better solution Nooke notes would be "if the government focused its efforts on building up its own farming system."
China denies the land-grab accusation, saying it "has never purchased land in Africa" (Times Live)--a statement which I'm not sure stands up to even casual scrutiny, but there it is. Nevertheless, China has put forth $14 million in emergency food assistance to the drought refugees.