By Barry Mason:
Famine threat in the Horn of Africa
6 July 2011
The countries comprising the Horn of Africa face the threat of famine, after a series of failed and poor rainy seasons has created the worst drought in 60 years.
The 2010 late rainy season failed completely in many parts of the area and the April-May rains were very low, with northeast Kenya getting only 10 percent of the usual rainfall. The impact is worst in Somalia and Ethiopia, but Kenya, Djibouti and parts of Uganda are also affected.
The current USAID Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) map of the area, indicating levels of food insecurity, shows large parts of Ethiopia and Somalia classed as in emergency and most of the remaining parts of each country classed as in crisis. Large areas of northeastern Kenya are classed as in crisis. In total, around 10 million people are affected.
FEWSNET uses an internationally recognised 5 level code to indicate phases of food insecurity. The phases are 1: none or minimal, 2: stressed, 3: crisis, 4: emergency and 5: catastrophe or famine.
While not yet a full blown famine, many fear the situation is approaching a tipping point where this would become inevitable. Sarah Robinson from the Irish humanitarian agency on the ground in Somalia explained, “A combination of hunger and despair means that many people simply go to sleep and do not have the energy to wake up. This has the potential to be as bad as anything since 1991.”
A major famine in 1991 killed around a quarter of a million people and left two million displaced.
In Somalia the drought and threatened famine are compounded by the ongoing civil war and social upheaval. Some people leaving the drought ravaged rural areas have trekked to the capital, Mogadishu, but many more have headed for Ethiopia and Kenya.
Obama under fire over detention of terror suspect on US navy ship. Somali man taken to New York to face criminal court trial after being questioned for two months without a lawyer: here.
UN declares famine in parts of Somalia: here.
US-backed forces launch military offensive in Somalia as aid is used as a weapon of war: here.
Somali women face rape and sexual assault in refugee camps: here.
The CIA’s Secret Sites in Somalia: here.
The Obama administration is operating an illegal secret CIA prison compound in Somalia into which targeted individuals are “rendered” without trial to be tortured: here.
Keith Olbermann talks with Jeremy Scahill of The Nation, also a “Countdown” contributor, about a secret CIA site in Somalia that trains Somali agents in counterterrorism efforts against a militant Islamic group. Watch the video here.
U.S. indirectly supplies guns that fuel Somalian conflict: here.
African land grab threatens food security: study: here.
USA: Hunger Stalks California’s Rural Communities. David Bacon, Truthout: “As communities get more rural and farm workers make up more of the population, people get poorer. In 2009, the average yearly income in Santa Clara County – home of Silicon Valley – was $94,715. Silicon Valley has its own not-so-hidden poverty, but the urban standard of living, especially in the country’s premier high-tech industrial center, is much higher than San Benito County… San Benito County’s unemployment rate was exactly double – 20.6 percent”: here.
Los Angeles and Orange Counties, known as centers of Southern California wealth and glamour, are now home to half a million people seeking help from food pantries: here.
Starvation is caused by the sick priorities of our system, not lack of food, writes Ken Olende: here.
Kenya: Flower cash crops reap hunger, destruction: here.
As Long as the Rich Can Speculate on Food, the World’s Poor Go Hungry: here.
The corporate takeover of Africa’s food is on shaky grounds — it’s time for action. “We, the smallholder farmers, want to have good lives,” says Victoria Adongo from the Peasant Farmers’ Association of Ghana (PFAG). “We have our seed systems that we like and are proud of. So we do not want multinational companies to come in and take over”: here.