Friday, January 27, 2012

Will West Africa’s drought be a repeat disaster?

Geoffrey York in the Globe and Mail (Toronto): After thousands died needlessly because of the slow response to the Somalia famine last year, the world’s donor nations now face another crisis: a drought in West Africa where up to 500,000 could die if no help arrives.

Failed harvests and lack of rain are affecting millions of people in the Sahel region of eight countries in West Africa. The crisis is made worse by rising food prices and the exodus of 200,000 migrant workers from Libya and Ivory Coast after the wars there.

The United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, says it needs $100-million this year to save the lives of 500,000 children in the Sahel. It wants to provide food to a million people in the region, and so far it only has the resources to feed half of them.

“We’re buying food as quickly as we can,” said David Gressly, the regional director of UNICEF in West Africa. “Everyone has learned a lesson from the Horn of Africa famine. We’re acting much more quickly this time. We’re going to react in time and save a large number of lives.”...

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