Sunday, July 24, 2011

Alarming proportions of drought in Horn of Africa: millions in need

View of drought from space in the Horn of Africa
Tens of thousands of people are being displaced by the intense drought in the region that affects Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. The crisis is visible from space and can be seen in this animation, derived from SMOS satellite data, which shows soil moisture in the Horn of Africa from April to mid-July 2011. The orange and yellow colouring depicts little to no moisture, while green and blue depict higher levels of soil moisture. 

If we consider the lasting armed conflict and political unrest which has reduced Somalia to a state of anarchy divided in sectors controlled by warlords and pirates, and where there are no guarantees for the most vulnerable; then Somalis are probably the hardest hit by the famine caused by the drought. Thousands of them have been fleeing to neighbouring countries seeking shelter from both nature and humans. Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp receives over 1000 people, mostly children, who arrived severely malnourished and dehydrated.

International aid agencies and the United Nations have called this the ‘worst drought’ in decades and are urging the international community to turn their sight to yet another crisis and donate relief funds. It is believed that around 12 million people on the brink of starvation are in need of urgent help in the Horn of Africa. To this effect the UN food agency FAO will host emergency talks in Rome on Monday to press countries and aid organizations to raise at least $1.6 billion.

Cristina Amaral, head of emergency operations in Africa for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said in Rome today that they “are afraid that things will get worse in the coming months if nothing is done now. The main aim of the meeting is to call the political attention of leaders of the world”.  

with information from ESA Portal

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