Saturday June 18, 2022
Scientists say climate change has exacerbated the drought in East Africa
Warning: This story includes some graphic accounts of human
suffering, malnutrition and death which some people may find disturbing. Please
exercise caution before reading on.
In January 2022, Hirsiyow Mohamed and her three children
left her drought-stricken village of Drumo in Somalia.
But after 15 days of walking through the hot desert with
almost no water and food, she arrived with only one child at the newly built
camp for displaced people near the town of Dollow, in the Gedo region of
"We were walking and walking, and my son was very
thirsty and exhausted, Mohamed recalls sadly.
"He asked me many times: 'Mummy water, mummy water,'
then he started gasping, but there was nothing, no drop of water I could give
him," she told DW.
Her sick 8-year-old daughter died on arrival at the camp.
She had been suffering from a bad cough and was weak from the journey.
Children are the most vulnerable as the drought in the Horn
of Africa worsens.
The UN projects that 350,000 of the 1.4 million severely
malnourished children in Somalia could starve to death if nothing is done.
The worst drought in
Climate change and extreme weather events have increased
natural disasters over the last 50 years, according to the World Meteorological
Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
As a result, the international charity organization Oxfam
said that more than 23 million people suffer from severe hunger in Ethiopia,
Kenya, Somalia and the autonomous region of Somaliland.
Moreover, there are growing fears that the situation could
worsen, as rainfall was scarce in March and early April.
Insufficient rain is forecast for April through June — the
rainy season for most of sub-Saharan Africa. This year (2022) would be the
third consecutive year where the East African and Horn of Africa regions have
not received enough rain.
Although droughts are common in this region, they are
becoming more severe. In addition, there is growing scientific evidence that
climate change has exacerbated their effects.
At a clinic near the Gedo camp, DW met mothers waiting for
treatment for their malnourished babies. One of the women, Rahmo Nur Wardhere,
said she had lost 100 goats due to the drought.
She, too, left her village with her nine children. Without
her relatives, they wouldn't survive, she told DW as she nursed two of her
"I can't put him down to rest, because he's sick,"
Nur Wardhere said, sounding hopeful because the swelling and fever had reduced.
"When we lost our livestock, we lost our minds. We used
to milk the goats for the children. When we lost that, we became desperate. We
can't live without our livestock," she added.
The drought has driven more than 500,000 people from their
homes this year, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). As a result, more
than 6 million are now facing acute hunger.
"This drought has the face of a child," said
UNICEF spokesperson Victor Chinyama.
"Not only a child suffering from malnutrition, but
there are also other risks, such as early marriage in the case of girls and
being recruited in armed groups in the case of boys."
Urgent appeal for aid
Food prices in Somalia are already skyrocketing because
people's livestock are dying, harvests are far below long-term averages, and
the war in Ukraine is further worsening an already dire situation.
The WFP said it urgently requires $192 million (€184
million) to avert famine, which could occur at anytime. So it's a race against
Petroc Wilton, WFP's head of communications in Somalia, said
the nation of nearly 17 million people is highly dependent on grain imports
from Ukraine and Russia.
"With the port of Odesa in Ukraine now closed, WFP
warns that the conflict could further increase food prices," Wilton told
We are having to prioritize to really target those in need
for immediate life-saving, but that means we're taking from the hungry to feed
Between 1970 and 2019, Africa recorded 1,695 weather-related
disasters that claimed 731,747 lives. The UN said the disasters also cost the
continent $5 billion in economic losses.
Edited by: Keith Walker