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Drought-Stricken Farmers Eating Termites in Kenya

Posted by feww on February 19, 2017

‘Humanitarian Catastrophe’ in Horn of Africa:

Debilitating drought destroys crop, sending food prices skyrocketing, and forcing millions of people and their dying animal to migrate.  

The Government of Kenya declared a national drought emergency on 10 February. The latest round of debilitating drought has affected 23 of 47 counties across the country. “The number of food insecure people more than doubled – from 1.3 million to 2.7 million. Some 357,285 children and pregnant and lactating mothers are acutely malnourished,” said UN OCHA.

Maize production in the coastal areas has decreased by 99 per cent compared to the long term average.

The rainfall deficit in the Horn of Africa has been particularly acute across Somalia, multiple parts of  Ethiopia,  Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan.

“According to the Nairobi-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe), a growing number of farmers in eastern and western Kenya are now harvesting and eating insects like termites to cope with prolonged drought.”

Situation Overview [UN OCHA]

  • The 2016 Deyr or short rains season (October to December) brought severely low levels of rainfall to the region.
  • The situation is worse than in 2010-11 in many ways.
  • The drought has had a major impact on water resources, including on river flow levels and the availability of water for human and livestock consumption.
  • Widespread crop failures have affected farming and agro-pastoral communities in most of Somalia, southwestern Ethiopia and northeastern Kenya, with food prices skyrocketing.
  • Livestock are becoming increasingly weak, contracting diseases and dying at alarming rates, with catastrophic consequences for pastoral communities.
  • Terms of trade are declining sharply for pastoralists, contributing to rising food insecurity and malnutrition.
  • Household production of milk and meat is low and the price of milk and other dairy products has skyrocketed.
  • 12.8 million people in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Somalia face are severely food insecure and are in need of humanitarian assistance.
  • Approximately 600,000 children aged 6 to 59 months in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia will be in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition in 2017 and this number is expected to rise rapidly. In Somalia, 13 out of 27 rural and displaced groups have Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates above emergency (15 per cent) levels.
  • The drought and the associated reduced access to water and sanitation has the potential to further exacerbate ongoing disease outbreaks and create new ones. About 15 million people will not have access to safe drinking water in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia in 2017.
  • Drought, economic shocks and conflict in the region have disrupted the education of approximately 6 million children in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
  • The drought has triggered movements of families in search of grazing land, water and work, increasing the risk of family separation and tensions among communities over scarce resources.
  • Repeated cycles of climatic shocks, coupled with insufficient recovery periods, have limited household and community coping mechanisms.
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