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Drought In The Horn Of Africa Threatening Food Security

“A drought in the Horn of Africa, triggered by the same La Nina episode that caused massive flooding in Australia last year, is plunging millions of pastoralists closer to food insecurity,” Greenwire/New York Times reports in a story looking at how the drought is affecting several areas in the region.

“Parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and eastern Uganda are most affected. … The severity this year will depend on the rainy season between March and May,” the news service writes. A total of 8.4 million people in the region currently need food aid, according to David Orr of the World Food Program (Vaidyanathan, 4/25).

“The current drought has the potential to be as devastating as that of 2009 if appropriate action is not taken immediately,” according to a statement from the Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies (CBHA), which has 15 members, including CARE and Oxfam and is hosted by Save the Children, AlertNet reports. “We know the lessons from previous disasters and we have a moral responsibility to act, but we are limited by this lack of funding at a critical time,” said CBHA Director Sean Lowrie.

Poor rains in the Horn of Africa have resulted in failed harvests, severe water shortages and animal deaths. CBHA said thousands of people have already left their homes to search for water and grass for their livestock. The need for funding for emergencies in the region is competing for attention with the demands of the situations in Libya and Cote d’Ivoire, aid workers point out (Migiro, 4/27).

Food Security Research In Syria

In related news, Cosmos examines research taking place in Aleppo, Syria. “[B]uried within the hundreds of thousands of plants that our ancestors didn’t pick (for one reason or another) are genes that have helped these wild plants survive in one of the harshest regions on the planet, enduring droughts, salinity and temperatures ranging from –12ËšC to 50ËšC. These genes now hold the hopes of scientists around the world and may offer a way to boost the output of regular crops. But thanks to the increasing focus on fewer and fewer higher-yield plants in modern agriculture, these genes – which could well be our saviours in the decades ahead – are fading into the background” (MacDonald, March 2011). 

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