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News Outlets Examine East African Drought

Sky News examines the drought in East Africa, focusing on its impact in Kenya. In “[o]ne of the worst-affected areas,” 70 percent of the “herds of cattle and goats have died in the past year, threatening the survival of entire communities who depend on them for their food and income,” according to Sky News (Hurd, 10/12).

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki “has declared the drought a national disaster and appealed for $150 million to feed the hungry,” Al Jazeera writes in a story examining the drought’s effect in Kenya. Rural areas – “with little access to education, healthcare, water and sanitation” – are suffering the most, “with livestock herders particularly at risk” (Adow, 10/11).

In one small hospital, “the beds are full of severely malnourished infants, watched over by their fearful, exhausted mothers. The women cannot find food so they are not producing the milk to feed their babies,” according to Dennis Onanda, a doctor. He said that 30 percent of patients used to be malnourished, but since June, the number has increased to 70 percent. “The drought has led to soaring food prices. In the barter economy a sack of maize that was once traded for one goat now costs four,” Sky News reports.

According to the news service, “The drought is predicted to end within weeks, to be replaced by potentially devastating El Nino rains and flooding.” The article includes information about how the government is handling the drought and a link to a video report (10/12).

BBC also reports on the situation, noting a program funded by the EU’s humanitarian wing that offers pastoralists “the equivalent of about $10 a goat – less than the market price of a healthy goat but a far better option than watching the entire herd die for no return.” According to the news service, the drought has resulted in increasing incidents of violent conflict. “The number of livestock raids has shot up as increasingly desperate people look for ways to boost their dwindling herds. In late September, 26 people were killed in one raid” (Ross, 10/11). An Associated Press video report also covers the situation in Kenya (10/12).

Boston Globe Examines ‘Trial Farm Insurance Program’ To Prevent Hunger In Ethiopia

The Boston Globe examines Oxfam American’s “trial farm insurance program,” which covers crop losses “for hundreds of farmers in Tigray Province in northern Ethiopia” experiencing an “ever-faster barrage of droughts.” According to the newspaper, almost 14 million people in Ethiopia are hungry this year. 

“Villagers have flocked to sign up for the trial farm insurance program since it was launched early this year. Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and Swiss Re, one of the world’s largest insurance companies, Oxfam America has made drought insurance available for the first time to about 200 households, 38 percent of them headed by women,” the Boston Globe reports. “The success of the pilot initiative prompted Oxfam America and Swiss Re to commit last month to sharply expand the project, from just one village to five more, with a new Rockefeller grant of $565,000.”

Abera Tola, who leads many Oxfam projects in Ethiopia, said the organization aims to build systems to to prevent hunger in the country, and lessen the impact when disasters happen. The article also describes an irrigation project (Smith, 10/13).

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