Somalia Famine Could Claim 750,000 Lives in Next Four Months Without Better Aid

east africa famine photo

Children have walked for weeks across the desert to get to Dadaab, and many perish on the way. Others have died shortly after arrival. On the edge of the camp, a young girl stands amid the freshly made graves of 70 children, many of whom died of malnutrition. Photo: Andy Hall/Oxfam/CC BY. Caption by Oxfam East Africa.

The worst drought in East Africa in 60 years continues to take a severe toll. The tragic stats coming from the UN (via BBC News):

Six areas are now considered to be afflicted by famine, with the latest, the Bay region, being worse than any so far--58% of children there are malnourished, a record rate of acute malnutrition. 12 million people in East Africa, 4 million people in Somalia alone, are affected. 750,000 of these people in Somalia being "at risk of death in the coming four months in the absence of adequate response", according to the UN's Food Security and Nutritional Analysis Unit. The Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya is now that largest in the world, with as many people in it as Kansas City, Missouri.

Overall it's worse than the famine in Somalia in 1992 and is approaching equaling the Ethiopian famine in the mid-1980s.

Read the BBC article linked above for some background on the famine, the role of Islamic militants in preventing aid from reaching affected areas (for a while at least they denied famine existed) and preventing Somalis from leaving the nation, such as it can be called a nation.

As for the absence of adequate response to the ongoing natural and humanitarian disaster, Mother Jones makes the case that the de facto media blackout of the famine certainly isn't helping the situation.

The article cites data from the Pew Research Center showing that over July and August the East African famine has accounted for just 0.7% of all news coverage. And cites Doctors Without Borders figures on how a little bit of coverage can go a long way--when ABC briefly covered the famine the aid organization reports that it received more than $100,000 in donations in one night.

As for the role of climate in this, UNEP head Achim Steiner reminds us that all signs pointing to climate change "exponentially" increasing the scale of of natural disasters.

And a quick glance at a map of the areas of the world with the greatest food security risk and one showing greatest water stress due to climate change and population growth shows where the impact will most acutely be felt:

food security risk map

water stress by 2070 map

Images: Maplecroft (top), BBC News (bottom; it's an interactive map at that link)
More on Global Climate Change
Heat, Drought, Famine All Part of Coming 'Exponential' Increase of Climate-Related Disasters
29,000 Children Dead Due to East African Famine in Past Three Months (Video)

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