The concept of hungry people being threatened by starvation, accompanied by appeals for humanitarian help at the national and regional levels, are as old as the modern African states. But to say that this season’s erratic rains have caused the problem is to evade the issue. Neither is it right to blame the food crisis on the fact that sections of the Horn of Africa have vast arid and semi-arid lands, nor is it acceptable to make a blanket condemnation against climate change. Pointing fingers at humanitarian agencies for failing to act on time, or toward the international community for its certain degree of indifference, won’t help either. These are replays of perennial official excuses to create a national and regional calamity where there ought to be none.
Milford Sound in New Zealand
And out of these perennial official excuses, an estimated 10-12 million people are now affected by the worst drought in more than half a century, according to the United Nations. More than 166,000 desperate Somalis are estimated to have already fled their country to neighbouring Kenya or Ethiopia. Of those being threatened by starvation, 2 million of them are children. UNICEF says that hunger and disease are claiming the life of a child every 6 minutes in the hardest hit areas of Somalia. It is appalling that in this modern age, a child should die of starvation anywhere in this world.
Merely discussing concepts of peace and conflict transformation to a starving population is a touchy matter. However, it is also an opportune moment to talk about poverty, environmental stress and vulnerability of people, as everyone is now willing to listen. All the comforts that have been key impediments have just been disrupted by television images of malnourished children starving to death. Thanks to technology, after broadcasting inspiring moments about the Arabic uprising, the media has, in equal measure, gone full circle and is now reminding the world that there are others whose survival hangs by a thread.