Somalia and Ethiopia are hovering at the edge of famine.
The Washington Post reported on the crisis in the “hungry horn” of Africa last week. In Somalia, U.N. officials predict that half of the population, about 3.5 million people, will need food aid. The New York Times explains the hunger is driven by rampant political insecurity, spikes in global food prices, devaluation of the local currency, and a severe drought.
The World Food Program is struggling to keep up, having already doubled the amount of food it distributes in Somalia and needing an additional 369,000 metric tons of food in Ethiopa. But Doctors Without Borders, a medical aid organization, says the situation just keeps getting worse as cereal prices in the Horn in the last year surged by as much as 375 percent. To make things worse, the drought has killed of most livestock, forcing formerly self-sufficient people to wait in line for food aid.
The next rainy season isn’t due till October, and the wells and watering holes that the people and animals depend on during the dry season are already drying up. Even the camels are hard pressed to survive.
International Medical Corps, another international medical aid organization in Somalia, is predicting grave starvation risks, with a recent 400 percent rise in the number of severely malnourished young children.
And the current drought — and its problems — are probably here to stay. Researchers have discovered that global warming is drying out the Horn of Africa — and it's happening much faster than anyone anticipated.
What will happen when current drought becomes a permanent shift to desert conditions? Somalia is only the first. Ethiopia is soon to follow.
Whether it is Somalia’s food crisis, the multi-year drought in Australia, or flooding in the American bread basket, climate change is going to vastly affect the world’s food markets.