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food insecurity in ethiopia
Despite the fact that Ethiopia has a stronger economy than many other countries in the sub-Saharan region of Africa, it still remains one of the world’s least developed countries. In 2017, Ethiopia ranked 173 out of 189 countries and territories in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI). Food insecurity contributes to a lack of development in Ethiopia.

Drought, Conflict, and IDPs

Drought is one of the principal sources of food insecurity in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is currently suffering from the lingering effects of past droughts. There have been two devastating droughts in Ethiopia since 2015, which has forced many out of their homes in search of food and basic services. Droughts are a primary factor in the creation of internal refugees, or internally displaced person (IDPs) in Ethiopia.

Currently, nearly three million Ethiopians are categorized as IDPs. In addition to drought, the number of IDPs has increased due to a surge in ethnic violence, particularly along the Oromiya-Somali regional border. Nearly 600,000 individuals from the Oromiya and Somali regions have become IDPs.

The combination of drought, displacement, violence and underdevelopment has resulted in widespread food insecurity in Ethiopia. Due to this, roughly 7% of the population relies on food aid. The U.S. Government has been heavily involved in battling food insecurity in Ethiopia. Currently, food insecurity and under-nutrition are two of the greatest economic hindrances in Ethiopia.

Here are five things you need to know about the United States’ involvement in addressing food insecurity in Ethiopia.

5 Ways the U.S. Helps Food Insecurity in Ethiopia

  1. “Feed the Future,” an initiative launched by the Obama Administration in 2010, has been one of the more successful programs in promoting food security in Ethiopia: Feed the Future worked in different areas in Ethiopia from 2013 to 2015 and reduced the prevalence of poverty in those areas by 12 percent. Additionally, in 2017, those who were reached by Feed the Future generated $40 million in agricultural sales and received $5.7 million in new private investment. The economy and food security in Ethiopia are closely intertwined because the nation’s economy is dependent on agriculture. Agriculture-led economic growth, therefore, has been one the primary missions of Feed the Future within Ethiopia.
  2. The US has focused on restoring Ethiopia’s potato and sweet potato supply due to its high source of Vitamin A as a means of reducing food insecurity in Ethiopia: In June 2016, The USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) supported the International Potato Center (CIP) to assist drought-affected farmers in planting potatoes and sweet potatoes. Due to this support, the CIP was able to provide sweet potato seeds to nearly 10,000 farmers and trained more than 11,300 men and women on various ways to incorporate this vitamin-rich vegetable into more of their meals. The USAID/OFDA continues to support programs that promote the development of critical agriculture, such as sweet potatoes, in Ethiopia.
  3. Mobile Health and Nutrition Teams (MHNTs) are working in Ethiopia to help manage issues of malnutrition: The USAID’s OFDA and UNICEF have partnered together to deploy MHNTs in order to provide malnutrition screenings, basic health care services, immunizations and health education. The team also offered patient referrals when necessary. In 2017, 50 MHNTs provided 483,700 individuals in the Afar and Somali regions of Ethiopia with life-saving health and nutritional services.
  4. Humanitarian assistance has been essential in reducing severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in children: Although USAID provides resources to help treat SAM, 38 percent of children under five still have stunted growth due to malnutrition. As of March 2018, 31,066 children were admitted and treated for SAM. Approximately 30 percent of these cases were in the Somali region due to the region’s issue with ethnic violence and drought. Significantly more assistance is needed in the Somali region in order to sufficiently manage malnutrition.
  5. Humanitarian assistance has been one of the primary reasons Ethiopia has not entered into a state of emergency for food insecurity: Although increased rainfall and a reduction in disease outbreak have helped minimize food insecurity in Ethiopia, the country would be much worse off without the help of humanitarian aid. Currently, Ethiopia is in crisis, which is phase three of five on the food insecurity scale. The phases include minimal, stressed, crisis, emergency and famine. Experts from the Famine Early Warning Systems Networks report that “Ethiopia would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance.”

Looking Forward

The need for humanitarian aid will increase as Ethiopia’s population rapidly grows. Currently, Ethiopia ranks second in Africa for the number of refugees the country hosts. Nearly 100 percent of these refugees originate from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan. Ethiopia currently hosts over 920,262 registered refugees and asylum seekers as of May 31, 2018.

The number of asylum seekers in Ethiopia will continue to grow because Ethiopia has an open-door asylum policy. As Ethiopia’s population continues to grow due to this policy, food sources will become increasingly strained. The need for humanitarian assistance to promote sustainable agriculture and farming practices, therefore, has become essential for reducing food insecurity in Ethiopia.

Ariana Howard
Photo: Flickr

living conditions in mauritania
The country of Mauritania is located in West Africa. It encompasses a land area of 1,030,700 square kilometers and has a population of more than 4,600,000. This makes it the 11th largest African country in terms of land area and 40th in terms of population. Despite its vast size, Mauritania is experiencing a devastating food and nutrition crisis, along with a horrific drought, that is making hunger in Mauritania more acute than it has been in years. The following is a list of the top 10 facts about hunger in Mauritania.

Top 10 Facts about Hunger in Mauritania

  1. Hunger is a serious problem: According to the 2018 GHI, Mauritania ranks 88th out of 119 qualifying nations in regard to the number of malnourished citizens within its borders. It has a score of 27.3 on the GHI Severity Scale. Thus, Mauritania is in the category of other countries, like Bangladesh and Burkina Faso, with serious levels of hunger.
  2. Drought cycles: Mauritania is located in the region of Africa south of the Sahara called the Sahel. This region consists of semi-arid grassland and has provided the continent with cash crops like cotton and millet. However, the Sahel receives extremely inconsistent rainfall and has suffered cycles of drought for thousands of years. The drought the Sahel currently endures has occurred since the 70’s. Because this drought is a regional problem, the lives of millions in countries outside Mauritania – like Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger and Senegal – are struggling through this drought as well.
  3. Managing drought: In a national report for Integrated Drought Management, Sidi Bobba, Director of Operations and Weather Forecasting and Sid El Kheir Ould Taleb Ekhyar, General Manager of M’Pourié Farm, say that Mauritanian authorities are employing strategies to minimize the impact of Mauritania’s current drought. Some of these strategies include encouraging Mauritanians to diversify their crops and use organic manure. Other strategies are using crops that are resistant to drought and focusing on farming techniques that promote the economy of the soil water.
  4. Reliance on imports: While fish, iron, natural gas, oil, copper, wild animals and gold are all natural resources that Mauritania has in abundance, many Mauritanians specialize in farming and pastoralism. Unfortunately, these sources of income are vulnerable to environmental shock. And because 80 percent of Mauritania’s land is desert that cannot be used for agriculture, this lack of arable land, combined with drought, has made Mauritania into a nation that depends on foreign imports to feed its citizens. In a good agricultural year, 70 percent of Mauritania’s food supply is imported, but in a bad agricultural year, 85 percent is imported.
  5. Cases of acute malnutrition: In January, UNICEF reported that 130,000 children, including 32,000 children with severe acute malnutrition, would require nutritional care and treatment this year. UNICEF also reported in a Humanitarian Situation Report that 24,521 children with severe acute malnutrition (11,770 girls and 12,751 boys) were admitted for treatment throughout Mauritania. This is 76 percent of the estimated 32,244 cases of severe acute malnutrition for 2018.
  6. Pregnant women and malnutrition: UNICEF also reported that 31,000 pregnant and lactating women would require nutritional care and treatment this year. The same report that reveals the number of Mauritanian children treated for severe acute malnutrition also reveals that 32,876 pregnant and lactating women have been offered aid at community health facilities. And 4,373 pregnant and lactating women were treated for acute malnutrition.
  7. Extreme poverty: Mauritania is one of the poorest nations in the world, with a GDP per capita of $4,500. As one of the poorest countries in the world, around 25 percent of Mauritanians live on less than $1.25 per day. This extreme poverty hinders many Mauritanians from accessing health and education services.
  8. Water production: Even though Mauritania is now working towards a solution to its water shortage, the African Development Bank Group reports that Mauritania has been able to meet only half of its estimated daily drinking water requirement of 100,000 m³/day for more than a decade. Its production level is only around 55,000 m³/day from the only available aquifer in the southwestern Mauritanian city Trarza.
  9. Malian refugees: Thousands of Malian refugees, escaping the 2012 coup and civil unrest, have entered Mauritania and the ongoing conflict in Mali continues to bring even more. The UN reported that in March there were 58,000 Malian refugees in Mauritania. In addition to needy Mauritanian citizens, these refugees also rely on food assistance. The UN World Food Program (WFP) and USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) give cash-based food assistance to around 55,000 Malians who live in the Mbera refugee camp in southeastern Mauritania.
  10. Malnutrition a key issue: The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has formed a chart that reveals the risk factors that drive the most death and disability combined in Mauritania. This chart ranks malnutrition as the chief risk factor from 2007 to 2017.

When one considers these top 10 facts about hunger in Mauritania, one might not be able to see a bright future for this country arising any time soon. But with the work of organizations around the world who are both providing aid to Mauritania and raising awareness of its food and nutrition crisis, one can hope that one day hunger in Mauritania will no longer be an issue.

– Jacob Stubbs
Photo: Flickr

korea sharing food
The end of World War II brought the division of North and South Korea. The fragmented region became occupied by the United States in the south and by the Soviet Union in the north. While both nations now hold sovereign status, they are still not on good terms. An area that spans the width of both countries and is roughly two and a half miles long separates the north from the south today. This zone, called the demilitarized zone (DMZ), is rarely crossed to travel from one country to another. That has changed recently, though.

Potential for Change

On Wednesday, the South Korean government announced that they will give North Korea 50,000 tons of rice to offset rising malnutrition rates in the region. South Korea sharing food with its neighbor marks the first humanitarian venture across the DMZ to provide food aid in North Korea.

Historically, North Korea has faced numerous issues providing the proper nourishment to their population. Here are a few quick facts on North Korean malnourishment:

The Bleak Facts

  1. Roughly half of North Korea’s population of 24 million live in extreme poverty. North Korea holds the lowest spot on world personal freedom rankings. Poverty, coupled with a lack of freedom, has led to very poor living conditions for its citizens.
  2. One-third of children in North Korea have stunted growth because of malnourishment.
  3. The Global Hunger Index ranked North Korea tenth from last, stating the hunger levels seen in this country are a serious health threat. One-third of children are thought to have their growth permanently stunted due to malnourishment. The lack of food not only affects children, it has also dropped life expectancies by five years.
  4. North Korea has lost hundreds of thousands of people to malnourishment due to historical famines. The largest, which occurred in the 1990s, had a disputed death toll that varied widely from 800,000 people to 3.5 million. This famine, although it killed several hundred thousand, if not millions, has never been acknowledged by the North Korean government.
  5. Currently, the country is facing the worst drought in a decade, which led to a 1.36 million ton shortage of grain. This shortage forced the North Korean government to reduce rations to only 11 ounces per person daily. If nothing is done to counterbalance the food shortage caused by this drought, up to 40 percent of the population is at risk of needing food aid in the next few months.

A New Precedent

These facts paint a bleak picture of life in North Korea, yet South Korea is trying to offset this growing problem by offering food aid. South Korea sharing food is an act of good faith aimed at improving relations between the two countries. The possibility of South Korea sharing food in the future with its estranged neighbor depends on North Korea ending its nuclear weapons program and improving ties between the two countries.

An act of humanitarian aid between two divided countries gives hope that someday food, not fences, will be shared between the two countries and that the world will see a unified Korea sharing food.

-Kathryn Moffet
Photo: Flickr

water quality in SomaliaFor a country whose entire eastern border is an ocean, water quality in Somalia is a longstanding worry for the nation’s citizens. According to UNICEF Somalia’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) studies, of the nearly 15 million people living in Somalia, only 45 percent of them have access to clean water. Only one in four people have access to adequate sanitation facilities within a reasonable distance of their homes.

WASH has linked the lack of clean water and sanitation facilities to the rising disease rates in Somalia, most notably, the widespread prevalence of widespread waterborne diseases such as diarrhea that account for more than 20 percent of deaths of children under five. Additionally, the lack of clean water is heavily correlated to malnourishment, which over 300,000 children in Somalia are currently suffering from.

While having clean drinking water is imperative to survival, the disposal of wastewater (water used for cooking, bathing, sewage and other uses) is nearly as important to providing a safe and clean environment for Somalians to live in. Considering that the infrastructure to dispose of wastewater is severely lacking in Somalia, and the fact that most Somalians rely on rivers and rainwater for water (natural sources which are highly prone to contamination by wastewater), it is little surprise that so many Somalians lack adequate drinking water.

Estimates indicate that it would cost $1.5 billion to provide clean water to all Somalians that would not be dependent on weather patterns, droughts or possible contamination by wastewater. While by no means a small sum, it is also not an outrageous one, and one that is being decreased by efforts to improve Somalian irrigation techniques, harvesting and storing cleaner rainwater, as well as other methods to help Somalia use less water more efficiently.

These efforts, however, are only made tougher due to the twofold threat of the terrorist organization al-Shabaab, which controls much of rural Somalia, where the lack of clean water is felt most severely, and the harsh drought and famine that is currently sweeping the country. While food and water supplies are already running low, al-Shabaab puts up blockades and refuses to let aid workers assist the starving and thirsty people. In March, the Somali prime minister reported that over a hundred people had died as a result of the drought, and that number has likely only continued to worsen as concerns over the water quality in Somalia continue to linger.

Organizations such as UNICEF have stepped up to combat the water shortages by providing medical services and other necessities. Most pressingly, UNICEF was providing over 400,000 people with daily water as of early 2017. Members of the group hope and plan to increase that number fourfold and provide water vouches to well over a million people.

USAID has already committed more than $300 million towards humanitarian assistance in Somalia for 2017. Much of that money is devoted to assisting the UNICEF WASH programs and activities already underway; however, the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance has involved itself in an attempt to address the emergency caused by the drought through other initiatives. This assistance is key to helping those affected survive the droughts and allow time for more sustainable solutions to be put in place to improve the water quality in Somalia.

Erik Halberg

Photo: Flickr

 NamibiaNamibia gained its independence from South Africa in 1990. However, it is still dealing with the result of socioeconomic inequalities that came from the apartheid system during colonization. The government has achieved the UNDP Millennium Development Goal of cutting its poverty rate in half, but has unfortunately failed to eradicate hunger in Namibia.

Namibia has a Global Hunger Index (GHI) of 31.4, as reported by the International Food Policy Research Institute. This shows an alarming level of hunger in Namibia. What makes it more serious is the fact that Namibia has the lowest percentage reductions in GHI scores since 2000. Though child stunting, child wasting and child mortality have declined, undernourishment has increased to 42.3 percent. The factors that lead to hunger in Namibia include frequent droughts and flooding, putting pressure on the country’s agricultural and livestock production.

Chronic droughts, lack of agricultural land and water shortages result in crop failure. This means that agricultural production is severely low, even though about 70 percent of the population depends on the agricultural sector for their subsistence.

15.8 percent of Namibia’s population lives on less than $ 1.25 per day. Its economy is largely dependent on extraction and limited processing of minerals like diamonds, gold and zinc. It is also one of the largest producers of uranium in the world. However, only 10 percent of the labor force is employed in the mining sector.

Poverty is the most important of the causes of hunger in Namibia, limiting access to food. Another problem is that Namibia is heavily reliant on food imports (60 percent of all its food requirements), which means it is subject to high prices. The proportion of food insecure individuals was estimated at 25 percent in 2016.

Recently, the World Food Programme and Namibia’s National Planning Commission launched a five-year Country Strategic Plan (CSP) with an aim to end hunger in Namibia. The CSP is aligned with the Fifth National Development Plan and the Zero Hunger Roadmap, meant to achieve two strategic wins: enabling the vulnerable population to meet their food and nutrition requirement and ensuring government policies and programme designs are more informed of hunger issues. The support includes implementation of food-based safety net programmes, food management and monitoring system as well as capacity development to sustain the improvements and achieve zero hunger in Namibia.

Tripti Sinha

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Cabo Verde
Cabo Verde is no stranger to the widespread hardships of famine. Ever since its establishment, hunger in Cabo Verde has been one of many trials and tribulations the country has faced.

Cabo Verde’s ongoing history with droughts, the first recorded in 1747, is one of the main causes of its hunger problem. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were three major droughts that resulted in the deaths of at least 100,000 people. It was not always that way. When Cabo Vervde was first discovered by the Portuguese in 1456, it was lush in vegetation. It even got its name from the green landscape it had upon discovery.

Portugal’s failure to assist those in Cabo Verde during these droughts only added to the problem. While being part of the Portuguese empire starting in 1495 and remaining one of its territories up until 1975, Cabo Verde had received little help during its droughts. The droughts and lack of government assistance continued into the twentieth century, where thousands more died of starvation.

Drought still plagues Cabo Verde to this day. There was a 65 percent decrease in rainfall in 2013 and 2014, which caused the loss of crops for 30,000 people. This drought led to the lowest corn production on record for 2014. However, there has been much greater initiative currently than there was in the past to find solutions to the issue of hunger in Cabo Verde. From the years 1991 to 2015, the total percentage of hunger in Cabo Verde decreased from 16 percent to 9 percent.

In an effort to address the problems caused by the 2013-2014 drought, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) supplied 7,015 households with a 17-kilogram kit containing bean, corn and cowpea seeds. The FAO also supplied 554 households with tomato, cabbage and onion seeds along with drip-irrigation kits in response to Cabo Verde’s lack of reliable water resources.

Cabo Verde has taken it into its own hands to ensure the proper nourishment of its citizens. The country was chosen to share its story in successfully feeding its young children to the 2015 Global Child Nutrition Forum. Proper nutrition is highly valued and is considered to be correlated to the strong development of a country, according to minister of education and sport Fernanda Marques.

The U.N. declared that the nation had met the Millennium Development Goal with 98.7 percent of its children enrolled in school, meaning that the majority of kids received the benefits of this program. These benefits include meals based on what the population likes to eat like the cachupa, which is a traditional dish made with vegetables, meat, fish and corn.

“My philosophy is that the purpose of foreign assistance must be to end the need of its existence – that we not only have to minister to immediate needs, but we have to help people take care of themselves,” USAID administrator Mark Green said in his speech at the World Food Program USA’s McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony.

Hunger in Cabo Verde may still persist, but Green’s words of aid being key to solve the problem holds true, as the nation is seeing improvement little by little.

– Blake Chambers

Photo: Flickr

5 Ways Climate Unequally Affects Vulnerable PopulationsMore than three billion people live in poverty today and depend on natural resources for survival. Gradual changes in average climate conditions severely impact impoverished nations; however, unforeseeable variabilities in climate are of particular concern. Climate unequally affects vulnerable populations and lessens their capacity for adaptation to particular climate factors. Their lack of technological and financial resources as well as their dependence on agricultural resources hinder their ability to withstand some climate factors that impact developed countries at a lesser scale. While all societies have to adapt to the multifaceted challenges posed by climate, poor countries are at a particular disadvantage, notably with respect to the following five climate factors:

1. Natural Disasters
Natural disasters stimulate poverty and prevent the alleviation of existing poverty. Poor nations are more exposed to natural disasters and are at a higher risk of losing a majority of their assets and income. It is much more difficult for impoverished nations to recover from a disaster and they typically receive much less support. Depending on fragile infrastructure, agricultural resources, and ecosystem incomes increase a nation’s vulnerability to natural disasters.

2. Warming
Even a slight rise in temperature at a global level negatively affects water quality and hygiene, which increases a nation’s risk for various diseases including malaria, encephalitis, Lyme disease and diarrhea. Rising temperatures creates a climate that is more susceptible to vector-borne diseases, which increase the diseases’ effects, further the diseases’ reach and stimulate the diseases’ prevalence.

3. Drought
Lack of access to water deeply affects developing countries. It becomes more difficult to sustain the agricultural sector and a cycle of devastation often hits. Less water reduces crop yields, increases food prices and decreases wages. Drought also affects agriculture indirectly, through climate-dependent stressors such as pests and epidemics.

4. Rain
Although rain and access to water are necessary for successful agriculture, too much rain and flooding can completely wipe out a season’s crop yield. Poorer nations often lack the ability to predict an expected rainfall, which can turn into overwatering or drowning of crops. Any loss in crop yield affects more than just economic instability as it almost always leads to an even greater risk of undernutrition.

5. Air pollution
Food production in developing nations is directly affected by high emissions of pollutants. While the impact varies from crop to crop and region to region, the overarching negative impacts are irrefutable. High emissions decline crop yields in and of itself, but increased pollutants also interact with fertilization and greenhouse gases. Air pollution also negatively affects health; 800,000 out of the annual two million child deaths are from respiratory infections, which are caused by indoor air pollution.

All of the above climate factors are deeply embedded with the successes and failures of impoverished people. Climate unequally affects vulnerable populations in many ways; however, the encouraging news is that economic development, poverty reduction, better infrastructure and increased access to healthcare have the potential to compensate for the effects of climate.

Jamie Enright

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Mali
Mali, the eighth-largest country in Africa sits landlocked in the western region of the continent. Hunger in Mali is often driven by drought and conflict in the region. There have been three major droughts that affected Mali in the last decade. In March 2012, the country faced a coup and a rebellion in the north.

According to a report from the World Food Programme, approximately 475,000 people were displaced from their homes after a major conflict in the northern part of the country. The country also suffered from food insecurity and faced issues of nutrition during this time.

In the northern regions of Mali, including Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, about one-fifth of the households experience food shortages. Additionally, approximately 15 percent of children are afflicted with acute malnutrition in Mali, according to the report.

According to an article from Action Against Hunger, rates of malnutrition in Mali “exceed the critical threshold on a national level.” Specifically, the Sahel region of northern Mali is perpetually in a state of nutrition emergency.

Since 1996, Action Against Hunger has provided treatment for malnourished Malians and helped to develop support malnutrition management in public health facilities.

In 2015, the World Food Programme reported that 2.5 million Malians were struggling to feed their families, and just over 300,000 of the country’s residents were considered to be in need of severe food assistance.

The report also stated that over half of the women in Mali are anemic. Furthermore, approximately 80 percent of children in Mali suffer from anemia.

Hunger in Mali is also worsened by over half the country living below the national poverty line. However, aid from global organizations has helped Mali in respect to food insecurity.

According to their report, the World Food Programme utilizes a cross-border operation from Niger to transport food to northern Mali. This organization also assists the country’s residents by providing them with cash to purchase fresh produce.

While hunger in Mali remains a pressing issue, the stress of food insecurity has the potential to be lessened by global organizations.

Leah Potter

Photo: Flickr


Over the last few years, Zimbabwe has been in a major drought due to climate change. According to NewsDay, the residents of this African country have experienced “suffocating dry spells with uncertainties on when exactly the rains [will pay them] the long awaited visit.”

The uncertainty of rain has led many Zimbabweans, especially children, to become undernourished and thirsty at all times. With 90 percent of agriculture being rain-fed, most of the food sources are also being destroyed.

This is where the international NGO Practical Action steps in. These expert problem solvers have developed a way to contain the little rain that does fall and allow it to be used for everyday water needs by harvesting rainwater in Zimbabwe.

Practical Action states that one key source of clean water is through “harvesting rainwater as it falls and retaining it in the soil or in tanks below ground.” There are a couple of methods it has come up with to help store rainwater, for both irrigation and drinking purposes.

First, by constructing divots into the earth, people can trap the rainwater instead of letting it run off the land. This better sustains crops, which improves nutrition.

A second way to capture and store rainwater is with tanks. Practical Action gives many examples of how to do this, including water falling off of roofs, flowing out of dams or gathering up in puddles. Underground or above ground, tanks are useful for collecting rainwater and storing it for an indefinite amount of time until it is needed.

There are many benefits to this innovation. Harvesting rainwater in Zimbabwe can be done whether there is a little sprinkle or a storm. The Zimbabwe National Water Authority said: “The claim that rainwater harvesting is only possible when the rains are heavy is, unfortunately, one of the biggest misconceptions that have scuttled rainwater harvesting efforts in the past.”

People can harvest rainwater year-round, so Zimbabwean families can see more impactful results.

Zimbabwe local and Rainwater Harvesting Chairman Tias Sibanda has noticed a change in his life due to his use of this system. He remarked: “Thanks to the water harvesting techniques shown to us by Practical Action… and with the contour field structures, we are now more ‘food secure’ and have no worries about soil loss.”

Harvesting rainwater in Zimbabwe could be a hugely beneficial technique to keep families healthy and happy for the duration of the drought.

Sydney Missigman

Photo: Flickr


Clean water is essential to the survival of all living things. Weather conditions in the Horn of Africa, the lack of the yearly rainy season in 2016 and an increase in sea surface temperatures have created an extreme emergency. Drought conditions have affected water quality in Somalia and have created both a food and health crisis.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), extreme drought affects more than 6.2 million people. Water quality in Somalia has deteriorated placing 5.5 million people in danger of contracting waterborne illnesses — with half being women and children under the age of five. Drought conditions have also led to a food crisis affecting at least three million people and prompting President Abdullahi Mohamed to declare a national disaster. If conditions do not improve, the U.N. expects these numbers to double this year.

As the water quality in Somalia worsens so does the spread of diseases, such as acute watery diarrhea and cholera. More than 17,000 cases have been reported at the local Cholera Treatment Centre, and the number is expected to increase. The situation has been made worse by the food crisis, as people become undernourished and weak.

A lack of knowledge also contributes to the crisis. Ruun Ali, the mother of four-year-old Asma, said, “We don’t know what causes it, but many people are getting sick.” She brought Asma to the Cholera Treatment Centre when she became sick with vomiting and diarrhea.

UNICEF is providing support for treatment centers and hopes to save lives by providing medical supplies and educating people on health and hygiene.

UNICEF is working to improve the situation in Somalia. In addition to providing 400,000 people with vouchers good for a daily water supply, it are also digging wells and providing water, sanitation and hygiene kits, along with drums of chlorine to improve the water quality in Somalia.

Mary Barringer

Photo: Flickr