Two months to the year and countries in the Horn of Africa are facing one of the worst droughts in decades, better epitomized by scorched earth, barren farmlands, livestock carcasses strewn all over and millions of people with no decent meals.
The World Food Program figures put the number of those in crisis and emergency food insecurity levels at 12 million, with Somalia having 2.9 million, Ethiopia 5.6 million, Kenya at 2.6 million and 5 million in South Sudan. Kenya has gone ahead to declare the drought a national disaster and moved on to call on the international community to bolster its support in tackling the cyclic phenomenon. The ripple effects of the water scarcity, dwindling pasture for livestock and limited food supplies should be cause for concern. Human wildlife conflict has become endemic especially with reports from Wildlife authorities indicating that animals are leaving parks to search for pasture. Just recently a woman at the Kenyan coast was killed by marauding elephants that were in search of water. There is a growing number of refugees displaced by such famine moving to neighbouring countries in search of food which is further fanning a crisis. Then there is the all scarce commodity; water that researchers have said will be central to modern day conflicts.
Variations in weather have been blamed for the current predicament. Yet scientists predict that it is set to hit Africa the hardest, especially because up to 70 per cent of the population relies on rainfed agriculture. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) estimates that temperature increases will be, on average, 50 percent greater in Africa. The wakeup call for especially the Horn of Africa countries is to look for homegrown solutions that will insulate their population from drought and its attendant impacts. The reality of changes in weather has now hit home if the current drought is anything to go by. Employing simple technologies like water harvesting, low cost technologies that embraces brainfed rather than rainfed agriculture and diversification of agricultural ventures would go a huge mile in addressing the food insecurity situation in the region. World Bank agrees, reiterating that Africa is an agricultural powerhouse that is capable of feeding itself and the world. In a report, Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness, the multilateral body argues that African farmers can comfortably create a trillion dollar food market by 2030 if they embraced better technology, grew high value nutritious foods and irrigated more land. It is the little things that count, Africa just needs to get its house in order.