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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Political will to fight drought in East Africa

Awosanya Yinka Sanya

In the recent months, the world has been daunted with the news that horn of Africa is facing the worst drought in six decades, according to the United Nations (UN).

This has led to loss of lives in millions while some find their destiny at refugee camps for survival, thereby creating food insecurity and displacement of people.

An estimation of about 13 million East Africans are affected by the famine with about 2.5million Kenyans not left out as they are in dare need of food.

The United Nations while trying to sort out the issue of food insecurity in Kenya said the affected population will soon rise to three million.

The world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, was intended for 90,000 people, but the UN said it now have more than 380,000 occupants.

Part of the cause of the drought, according to experts, could be linked to the increase in global food price by almost 40 per cent between July last year 2010 and February 2011.

Industry observers noted that the demand and supply sides were the major factors affecting food pricing as well as an increase in population also contributes towards high food price.

Equally, UN said, countless efforts have been made to combat the issue of escalating malnutrition in the region; governments, corporate institutions and foundations have all try to meet the needs of the East Africans, whereas millions of dollars have expended in fighting the famine.

Part of the efforts includes the gathering of the East African Legislative Assembly’s resolve to strategise so as to boost food security in the region. The legislators joined forces with global parliamentarians from 30 other countries of Association of European Parliamentarians in appealing for assistance to address the drought threatening lives in the horn of Africa.

The East Africa Agricultural Development Action Plan which is expected to run for 25 years between 2010 and 2035 was also approved by the Assembly in December 2010 in an effort to control the food insecurity.

Chinese government was not left out in the crusade, as it partnered other international communities to make available emergency grains and monetary donations of about N11.07billion to the governments of Eastern Africa.

Also, in effort to fight the drought that have already claimed about 30,000 children in just 3 months, the government of Kenya made a controversial move to allow the importation of Genetically Modified (GM) maize from South Africa since GM maize could be grown in the country.

The World Bank is not left out in the fight as it extends helping hands with the sum of about N299.5billion to be used in catering for the needs of the affected populace.

The United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon was quoted as saying recently that three-quarters of a million people in the affected region are at imminent risk of starvation due to war, the droughts that have continually plagued the regions and rising food cost.

Ban Ki-Moon described the drought as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, hence there is need for an addition aid of N112,225 million to the victim countries.

Spirit of compassion and generosity was demonstrated in recent times by the Canadian government which led to the donation of the sum of N11.49 billion to support the East Africans. The funds to be manned by the United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF) and some other United Nations programmes, is expected to give a boost to the alleviation projects for East Africans.

Above all, industry watchers expected that AU should be able to galvanise resources, even if not like member countries, but as a continental body to support what the international community has done so far and would continue to do in the near future.

The political will to entrench this concept of an African Made Aid, would be seen by many as a means of reducing corrupt funds being starched away in advance countries.


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