End Times News Update
Sign: Famine
Scripture: Matthew 24:7
News Source: My Way News
Slow response to East Africa famine ‘cost lives’

Jan 18, 3:10 PM (ET)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Thousands of people died needlessly and millions
of dollars were wasted because the international community did not
respond fast enough to early signs of famine in East Africa, aid
agencies said Wednesday, while warning of a new hunger crisis in West

Most rich donor nations waited until the crisis in the Horn of Africa
was in full swing before donating a substantial amount of money,
according to the report by aid groups Oxfam and Save the Children. A
food shortage had been predicted as early as August 2010, but most
donors did not respond until famine was declared in parts of Somalia
in July 2011.

The report even blamed aid agencies, saying they were too slow to
scale up their response.

“We all bear responsibility for this dangerous delay that cost lives
in East Africa and need to learn the lessons of the late response,”
said Oxfam head Barbara Stocking.

The British government estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000
people died from the famine, mostly Somalis. Ethiopia and Kenya were
also affected but aid agencies were able to work more easily there
than in war-ravaged Somalia.

More than half of those who died are believed to be children. The
United Nations says 250,000 Somalis are still at risk of starvation
and more than 13 million people need aid.

Among the report’s findings:

– Donors expressed concern that Ethiopia underestimated the number of
people in need and found that the lack of timely, accurate information
made it more difficult to provide aid. Ethiopian government figures
published in February 2011 said 2.8 million people were in need, and
those figures were revised two months later and again in July 2011 to
4.5 million people.

– Kenya’s food aid system carries out need assessments only twice a
year, which end up being several months out of date. It added that
corruption and political distractions, including a new constitution,
reduced the national capacity to respond, although it said the
reaction of the Kenyan public to the crisis was “substantial.”

– The situation was much worse in southern and central Somalia, where
conflict and militancy prevented traditional drought responses and
reduced the ability of aid groups to help.

One Kenyan economist said it would have been difficult to prevent the
famine in south-central Somalia, which is mostly controlled by
militants from al-Shabab, an insurgent group that has greatly limited
what aid agencies can do in the region.

“I don’t think the solution to famine is just sending money in good
time,” said economist James Shikwati. “It also needs policy changes.
Look at Somalia. (Even) if you have all the money in your pocket and
all the grain in your store, unless al-Shabab allows you to access
their areas, then people there are still going to starve.”

The report said many donors wanted to first see proof that there was a
humanitarian catastrophe, and that caused a funding shortfall that
delayed a large-scale response to the crisis by about six months.

Governments, donors, aid groups and the U.N. need to change their
approach to such disasters to help a larger number of people during
the next hunger crisis, the report said.

Ethiopia was able to minimize the effects of the drought because of
the promotion of disaster risk management policy and practice, the
report said.

“This contrasts with Somalia, where such work has been largely absent,
due to access restrictions, a complex environment and the
unwillingness of donors to invest,” it said.

Now, there are clear signs of an impending hunger crisis in West
Africa, said Justin Forsyth, head of Save the Children. The report
said a food crisis in the West African region known as the Sahel is
being driven by drought and high food prices. The report says agencies
should put into practice there what has been learned in the Somalia

A recent Save the Children assessment in Niger shows families in the
worst-hit areas are already struggling with around one-third less
food, money and fuel than is necessary to survive.

Besides Niger, the other countries at risk are Mauritania, Burkina
Faso, Mali and Chad, said Alun McDonald, regional spokesman for Oxfam.

Friday will mark six months since the U.N. declared famine in Somalia.

“The earlier you respond, the more you get for your money,” McDonald said.

Trucking just over a gallon (5 liters) of water per day per person to
80,000 people in Ethiopia costs more than $3 million for five months,
the report said, compared with $900,000 to prepare water sources in
the same area for an oncoming drought.

“We’ve done a lot of water trucking. It’s the last resort,” McDonald
said. “It’s a very expensive and inefficient way of delivering water.”

“It’s much more cost-effective to invest early on” in things like
dams, reservoirs, and boreholes, he said.

The report also said it costs three times as much to restock a herd in
northern Kenya than to keep it alive through supplementary feeding.

“The world knows an emergency is coming but ignores it until
confronted with TV pictures of desperately malnourished children,”
Forsyth said.

The World Food Program says that even though the worst of the crisis
appears to be over, hundreds of thousands of people will still need
food aid in the coming months to survive because their livestock have
died and crops have not yet grown.

Earlier this week, food donated by Cargill, the Minnesota-based
producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial
products, was delivered to needy communities in Kenya. Cargill donated
10,000 metric tons of rice to WFP USA to be distributed in the Horn of

The group said the donation – the largest ever food donation to WFP
USA – would feed nearly 1 million people for a month.

Source: My Way News

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