Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Drought, weak infrastructure worsen Tanzanian hunger

Kizito Makoye in AlertNet: …Southern Tanzania is experiencing prolonged drought, a problem weather forecasters accurately predicted. But a lack of basic infrastructure in the region - from working roads and electrical supply to radio ownership, which might have alerted more people to the coming problem - has helped turn hardship into hunger.

"The government is not doing enough to avert this disaster. We call upon national leaders to distribute food for free to all affected families in southern regions as soon as possible," said Harold Sungusia a human right activist with the Dar es Salaam-based Legal and Human Rights Centre.

Climate change is thought to be playing a key role in worsening droughts across east Africa. But drought by itself does not cause disasters, experts emphasize. It is a lack of preparedness for problems and a lack of means to deal with them that turns drought into hunger, they say.

…The Tanzania Meteorological Agency predicted last year that drought would grip most parts of central and southern Tanzania in 2010. But the dry weather still came as a surprise to most villagers in remote Kiwengo, where maize, beans, rice, yams and cassava are normally grown. Very few possess radios, so news and educational programmes on climate change rarely reach the village.

According to experts from the disaster management department of the Prime Minister's Office, who assessed the situation in the affected areas, the problems drought-affected farmers face are expected to worsen because of difficulties delivering relief food in the remote region….

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