THE looming famine in the Horn of Africa was entirely predictable – there hasn’t been enough rain in several years – but everyone has still failed to get ahead of it.
In Somalia, nearly 260,000 people died as a result of the last major drought in 2010-2012, and experts are now warning of a full-blown famine in June.
So what needs to be done? In an informative commentary piece for Al Jazeera, leading food security researcher Esther Ngumbi points out the short-term solutions: food aid, nutrient supplements, cash to buy what food there is.
But she also stresses that the conditions that lead to famine in the Horn are regular events so it’s beyond time to invest in longer-term strategies: planting crops that can do with less water, crop diversification, investing in community water resources.
Some governments are already on it, but officials, NGOs, and local groups need to better coordinate their efforts to built sustained resilience to these sorts of disasters. With 12 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya already in need of food assistance, this problem isn’t going away.
This short BBC video provides a glimpse into the desperate situation already in Somalia. The animal carcasses in the video make for an uncomfortable prophecy.