East Africa is on the verge of a record drought.
"The world must unite to combat climate change." There is little scientific disagreement that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades." - President Barack Obama.
As a dire matter, climate change has to be dealt with. A high priority should be accorded to it because it merits it. Scientists with the Famine Early Warning System Network issued an alert in November 2021, warning that if poor seasonal rainfall continued into 2022, the Horn of Africa would experience an unprecedented drought. Unfortunately, they were right on the money.
There have never been such dry and hot conditions in East Africa as they are right now, especially in Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Thirteen million people are suffering from acute food and water scarcity at the moment; by the middle of 2022, it is predicted that a further 25 million people will be affected.
Climate change is being blamed by scientists for the current crisis in a region of the world that is ill-equipped to deal with it. The continent of Africa as a whole is responsible for about 2% to 3% of global emissions that are responsible for warming the planet and changing the climate.
A combination of factors contribute to Africa's vulnerability to cyclones and other natural disasters like those that recently ravaged Mozambique and Madagascar.
Moreover, if current trends continue, scientists predict that Africa's situation will get much worse still. In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report of 2022, "key development sectors have already suffered widespread loss and damage attributable to anthropogenic climate change, including biodiversity loss, water shortages, reduced food production, loss of lives, and reduced economic growth."
In light of the current drought in East Africa, aid organizations are scrambling to avert a repeat of the 2011 famine, which claimed the lives of an estimated 260,000 people.
This could be the region's worst drought since 1980s if April rains are as disappointing as the previous three. A famine of tragic proportions is possible.
Ecosystems Division Director Susan Gardner stated, "At the moment we see vulnerable communities in the Horn of Africa being disproportionately affected by climate change who are least able to buffer against its impact." By providing immediate humanitarian aid and investing in long-term ecosystem-based adaptation solutions, we can avert a major humanitarian crisis that could devastate East Africa and the rest of the world.
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