Drought in east Africa the result of climate change and conflict

Felicity Lawrence | The Guardian | July 2011

Issues:Climate change, Competition over resources, Marginalisation

Aid agencies say that weather in the region has become more erratic and years of war leave populations especially vulnerable

Prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa is the immediate cause of the severe food crisis already affecting around 10 million people in parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. Rains have failed over two seasons, with a strong La Niña event having a dramatic impact across the east coast of Africa. Now this year's wet season has officially ended, there is little prospect of rain or relief before September.

How far the current conditions, classified by the UN as "pre-famine" – one step down from "catastrophe" – can be attributed to climate change is not clear. The last intergovernment panel on climate change reportsuggested that the Horn of Africa would get wetter with climate change, while more recent academic research has concluded that global warming will increase drought in the region. However, according to aid agencies, the weather has become more erratic and extreme in recent years. The same area suffered a drought in 2006 as well as flash floods.

The structural causes of the crisis go deeper. The Horn of Africa has long been one of the most conflict-riven areas of the world and a focus of geopolitical struggles from the days of the British empire, through the cold war, to today's the "war on terror".

Read the rest of the article here.

Image source: Oxfam International 


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