Expected rains have failed to arrive for successive seasons
in and around Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. The absence has
in turn caused severe shortages of food and water for millions of people.
OXFAM's Humanitarian Director Jane Cocking said, "This is
the worst food crisis of the 21st Century and we are seriously concerned that
large numbers of lives could soon be lost." She added, "Two successive poor
rains, entrenched poverty and lack of investment in affected areas have pushed
12 million people into a fight for survival. People have already lost virtually
everything and the crisis is only going to get worse over the coming months -- we
need funds to help us reach people with life-saving food and water."
The hardest hit is Somalia with internal violence from armed
groups, famine, an insufficient supply of drinking water, unbearable heat in
some locations and long-term drought simultaneously impacting the population.
With thousands walking sometimes weeks on end to try to find
relief, some of them are being robbed of all possessions by bandits while en route to Ethiopia or Kenya.
This and related
problems should be more concretely addressed in a global-scale war on
poverty. If the issues of poverty were more seriously and adequately
addressed, the 925 million people who presently live in hunger and the many million
of children who have already died every year before reaching their fifth
birthday could have found relief. All told, twelve million of the refugees are in danger of
starvation and, according to UNICEF, one million children
are at risk to die. Moreover, the continued lack of rainfall this year and the
drastic rise in the price of corn, the food staple for East Africa, mean this
humanitarian crisis will continue for some time to come. Meanwhile, drought
conditions are expected to continue for the next three months
exacerbating an already drastic and nearly hopeless
In Asian, African and
Latin American countries, well over 500 million people
living in what the World Bank calls "absolute poverty". Every year 15 million
children die of hunger. I know there will be one or two who will say "why
should I care?" It would seem that the onus is on them to answer the question:
"Why don't you
Organizations helping drought victims in Africa:
I am a free-lance writer/researcher who lives in Muskegon Heights, Michigan.