August 2, 2017
Photo Courtesy of i News
East Africa has suffered from a severe drought, hitting Somaliland the hardest. Although this region of the world is no stranger to droughts, the length and severity of this one is said to be unprecedented. According to Dr. Funk, an expert on the East African climate, these concerning trends are highly related to climate change and constitute a warning to the rest of the world. Charities have been working tirelessly in the region to prevent the crisis from getting worse. Funding has been sent to East Africa, but more than 800,000 children continue to suffer from undernutrition.
Below is an article published by i News
Villagers are starving to death as the severe drought in East Africa triggers a humanitarian crisis. Exclusive report and photographs by Rob Hastings from Sanaag, Somaliland Victims of climate change are starving to death after seasonal rains failed once again in parts of East Africa afflicted by a three-year drought – with 19 million needing help in getting food and water just to stay alive.
i has visited Sanaag, one of the worst-hit areas in Somaliland, finding a remote camp in Fadhigab where six children had died in the past month as vital deliveries of food and water are unable to provide for ever-increasing numbers of desperate families arriving there. Clan elders – who have seen entire herds of livestock wiped out, destroying their communities’ livelihoods – said the conditions were the worst they had ever experienced, after their hopes were dashed of summer rain finally providing respite.
This area of the world has experienced many droughts before, but the length and severity of the dry spell here is unprecedented, resulting in malnutrition and acute watery diarrhea while also worsening the refugee crisis as it forces people from their land.
i also visited an overstretched hospital for malnourished mothers and babies, where some patients are treated by doctors and nurses who are going unpaid as funds are low.
Dr Chris Funk, an expert on the East African climate with the US Geological Survey, said the situation in wider Somalia was “one of the most concerning rainfall trends in the world” and that average temperatures had also increased significantly. He believed this was “highly related to climate change” and said the fatal effects were a warning to the rest of the world because “Somalia is our canary in the coal mine “.
The situation in East Africa was declared an international emergency this year, leading to charities and governments from across the world responding to a UN appeal for $1.5bn (£1.1bn) for Somalia – but so far there is a $600m shortfall. The British Government has contributed £170m from its aid budget for Somalia, while the British public has donated £60m to the East Africa Appeal for the whole region. While the funding has so far prevented the humanitarian crisis from getting worse, the situation remains extremely precarious as millions of people may continue to rely on emergency aid for months or even years to come. More than 800,000 children aged under five are severely malnourished.
i travelled to Somaliland with ActionAid, a leading British charity providing food and water to some of the most vulnerable drought victims in the region, as well as funding resilience schemes to protect them against future dry periods. The charity’s emergency coordinator in Somaliland, Mustafa Ahmed Mohammed, said the problem was particularly serious in the eastern part of the territory, one of the poorest places in the world.
“If we withdraw our funds now and stop, then thousands of people will be on the brink of starvation,” he said. “They need food and water, they need medicine.” He added: “When you look back over history, droughts used to happen once every decade. These days they are becoming more frequent.”