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

Droughts seriously impact on health

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 15 July 2011

In the Horn of Africa, increasingly frequent drought episodes punctuated by ever shorter recovery periods have exhausted the coping capacity of communities in a region where resources and services are already scarce. The resulting depletion of household resources is having a serious impact on the general health and nutritional status of the population.

The vicious cycle of hunger- ill-health- poverty means that fewer resources are dedicated to health care just as health needs increase as a result of poor diet. Lack of water and population displacements, which result in precarious sanitation, further increase the risk of communicable diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections and measles. Outbreaks of acute watery diarrhoea and measles have already been reported in Djibouti and Ethiopia. The effects of the drought are also aggravated by weak health care systems, with limited human resources and medical supplies and low immunization coverage.

The areas most severely affected are also those suffering from some of the highest disease burdens in the region. For example, in Somalia, child health is among the worst in the world. Infant mortality is estimated at 88 per 1000 live births and under-five mortality at 142 per 1000. In the first half of 2011, at least three Somali children died of malnutrition every day. In parts of Southern Somalia, one in three children is malnourished. Continue reading