Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Drought warning prompts for Horn of Africa call for early action

IRIN: Drought is likely to return to Somalia and other parts of the Horn of Africa over the next three months, say regional climate scientists meeting in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. The forecast comes just weeks after the UN declared the Somali “famine” over.

“There is a high probability of drought returning to the Greater Horn of Africa…Poor rains are a definite in all of Somalia, Djibouti, northern Kenya, southern, eastern and northeastern Ethiopia,” said Laban Ogallo, director of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), which provides forecasts for the Horn.

“We have put the message out there. It is now up to governments, civil society and the media to prepare… for the worst-case scenario even if the worst does not happen. There is no harm in being prepared,” he said. “We must realize many of these areas are already facing the cumulative impact of several droughts.”

Youcef Ait Chellouche, deputy regional coordinator of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, said the coping mechanism of people in most of these areas who experienced severe drought in 2010-2011, is almost non-existent. In the coming days, he said, he would be meeting disaster risk managers from various countries and agencies to draw up a plan for early action.

“We cannot wait for people to show up in Dadaab [refugee camp in eastern Kenya] yet again. We have to take preventive action now. We need to find ways to secure livestock and provide cash transfers to people now. These are some of the lessons from last year’s drought,” he added...

The Horn of Africa, map by Skilla1st, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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