Monday, September 28, 2009

Drought pushes 23 milllion East Africans toward severe hunger: Oxfam

Xinhua (China): A global charity, Oxfam International, has launched a 9.5-million-British pound (about 15.2 million U.S. dollars) emergency appeal to reach 750,000 in need of food assistance, warning that drought has pushed millions of East Africans to severe hunger due to failed rains. The agency said more than 23 million people are being pushed towards severe hunger and destitution across East Africa.

"This is the worst humanitarian crisis Oxfam has seen in East Africa for over ten years. Failed and unpredictable rains are ever more regular across East Africa as raining seasons shorten due to the growing influence of climate change,” Paul Smith Lomas, Oxfam's East Africa Director said. He said droughts have increased from once a decade to every two or three years. In Wajir, northern Kenya, Oxfam said almost 200 dead animals were recently found around one dried-up water source.

“People are surviving on two liters of water a day in some places -- less water than a toilet flush. The conditions have never been so harsh or so inhospitable, and people desperately need our help to survive,” said Lomas.

The agency said a severe and persistent five-year drought, deepened by climate change, is now stretching across seven countries in the region and exacting a heavy human toll, made worse by high food prices and violent conflict.

According to Oxfam, the worst affected countries are Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Uganda. Other countries hit are Sudan, Djibouti and Tanzania. Malnutrition is now above emergency levels in some areas and hundreds of thousands of cattle -- people's key source of income -- are dying….

A formation near the town of Kibish, location of the archaeology dig where human bones believed to be 195,000 years old were discovered along the Omo River in southern Ethiopia, shot by John Fleagle, Wikimedia Commons

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