Famine claims hundreds every day in Somalia

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 22 July 2011

Famine in Somalia has killed tens of thousands of people in recent months and could grow even worse unless urgent action is taken, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Wednesday. FAO has appealed for $120 million for response to the drought in the Horn of Africa to provide agricultural emergency assistance.

Around 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are currently in need of emergency assistance

Hundreds of people are dying every day and if we do not act now many more will perish,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.

“We must avert a human tragedy of vast proportions. And much as food assistance is needed now, we also have to scale up investments in sustainable immediate and medium-term interventions that help farmers and their families to protect their assets and continue to produce food.

Special report

In a special report published today [20 July 2011] the FAO-managed Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network officially declared a state of famine in two regions of southern Somalia, Bakool and Lower Shabelle.

The report warns that in the next one or two months famine will become widespread throughout southern Somalia.

Together with ongoing crises in the rest of the country, the number of Somalis in need of humanitarian assistance has increased from 2.4 million to 3.7 million in the last 6 months.  Altogether, around 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are currently in need of emergency assistance. Continue reading

Locust plague possible in Madagascar

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 21 June 2011

A current build up of locust populations in south-western Madagascar could turn into a plague and seriously endanger the livelihoods of 13 million people unless a new campaign is launched to contain the crop-devouring insects, FAO said today.

A bio pesticide used in 2010 prevented a locust upsurge escalating into a plague

According to latest estimates on the ground some 300 000 ha of locust-infested territory needs to be treated from November 2011 to May 2012 at a cost of $7.6 million.

“We must break the locust population dynamics in order to prevent further developments that could affect the island for years and seriously impact on the livelihoods of two thirds of the population, or 13 million people,” said FAO Locust Officer Annie Monard, who is coordinating anti-locust operations in Madagascar.

Locust upsurge

Since August 2010 FAO, together with the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and USAID has been helping the Malagasy Locust Control Centre (CNA) contain populations of Malagasy Migratory Locusts following an upsurge in March of last year.

After training and formation of national teams, anti-locust operations were concentrated in the months from October 2010 to April 2011, corresponding to the rainy season and the locust breeding period. Some 200 000 hectares (ha) infested by locusts were sprayed by helicopter while ground-based control measures were deployed over 27 000 ha and are continuing.  Continue reading

Water warning for agriculture

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 09 June 2011

Climate change will have major impacts on the availability of water for growing food and on crop productivity in the decades to come, warns a new FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations] report.

Loss of glaciers will eventually impact the amount of surface water available for agriculture

‘Climate Change, Water, and Food Security’ is a comprehensive survey of existing scientific knowledge on the anticipated consequences of climate change for water use in agriculture.

These include reductions in river runoff and aquifer recharges in the Mediterranean and the semi-arid areas of the Americas, Australia and southern Africa — regions that are already water-stressed. In Asia, large areas of irrigated land that rely on snowmelt and mountain glaciers for water will also be affected, while heavily populated river deltas are at risk from a combination of reduced water flows, increased salinity, and rising sea levels.

Additional impacts described in the report:

An acceleration of the world’s hydrological cycle is anticipated as rising temperatures increase the rate of evaporation from land and sea. Rainfall will increase in the tropics and higher latitudes, but decrease in already dry semi-arid to mid-arid latitudes and in the interior of large continents. A greater frequency in droughts and floods will need to be planned for but already, water scarce areas of the world are expected to become drier and hotter.

Even though estimates of groundwater recharge under climate change cannot be made with any certainty, the increasing frequency of drought can be expected to encourage further development of available groundwater to buffer the production risk for farmers. Continue reading

Time to take stock of South Africa’s fishing industry

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 08 June 2011

WWF South Africa (The World Wide Fund for Nature) called for “all hands on deck” to address the key threats facing South Africa’s fisheries, this World Oceans Day.

Fishing techniques, such as trawling, directly impact marine habitats

“World Oceans Day is a good time to take stock of the state of South Africa’s fishing industry,” said Dr Samantha Petersen, WWF South Africa’s Senior Programme Manager: Marine. “Considering that South Africa’s coastal

communities are dependent upon the resources provided by the oceans for food security and livelihoods, it is vital that we address these issues.”

“Presently we are facing several key threats, but most significant is that of over-fishing. The demand for seafood is at an all-time high with 2009’s global per capita consumption at 17.2kg. The proportion of over-exploited or depleted fish stocks increased to 32% in 2008, bringing the proportion of global stocks fished to their limit or beyond to 85%.”

“Coupled with this is the fact that many fishing practises are wasteful and frequently unselective with an estimated 38.5 million tonnes globally, or 40.4% of the estimated total marine catch comprising of non-target species such as seabirds, turtles, sharks and other finfish. As many bycatch species are marine top predators, the unmonitored and uncontrolled discarding of these animals can have knock-on impacts on the functioning of marine ecosystems. Furthermore, many fishing techniques such as trawling, directly impact marine habitats.” Continue reading

World food supply warning

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 31 May 2011

Oxfam called on Tuesday for an overhaul of the world’s food system, warning that in a couple of decades, millions more people would be gripped by hunger due to population growth and climate-hit harvests.

The price of staple foods will more than double in the next 20 years

A “broken food system” means that the price of some staples will more than double by 2030, battering the world’s poorest people, who spend up to 80% of their income on food, the British-based aid group predicted.

“The food system is buckling under intense pressure from climate change, ecological degradation, population growth, rising energy prices, rising demand for meat and dairy products and competition for land from biofuels, industry, and urbanisation,” Oxfam said in a report.

“The international community is sleepwalking into an unprecedented and avoidable human development reversal,” it added.

Noting that some 900 million people experience hunger today, Oxfam said the tally of misery could rise still further when a “perfect storm” struck a few decades from now. Continue reading