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Africa Drought

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Kenyans draw weapons over shrinking water supplies and pasture

Experts fear the conflicts involving cattle, water and land may be just the beginning of climate-driven violence in Africa. At least 400 people have died in northern Kenya this year, the U.N. says. Tribes that lived side by side for decades say they've been pushed to warfare by competition for disappearing water and pasture. The government is accused of exacerbating tensions by taking sides and arming combatants who once used spears and arrows. It's a combustible mix of forces that the United Nations estimates has resulted in at least 400 deaths in northern Kenya this year. Moreover, experts worry that it's just the beginning of a new era of climate-driven conflict in Africa. Los Angeles Times_ 11/27/09

Food and water crisis severe in Kenya

Kenya is facing a severe shortage of food and water with more than 10 million people requiring urgent assistance. Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Wednesday told Parliament that only 20 million bags of maize, Kenya's staple food, would be harvested this year, against an annual consumption of 33 million bags. Delivering his weekly address to Parliament, the Prime Minister blamed the severe shortage on failed rains. The PM warned of a "catastrophe" if the short rains expected between October and November also failed. To address the biting water shortage facing the country, Mr Odinga said the Water ministry had embarked on drilling boreholes across the country. He said that the government had bought water tankers and leased private ones to supply water to some regions. Mr Odinga also noted that the ministry was reviving eight water schemes near Nairobi to ease the pressure on water resources in the city. Daily Nation_ 7/22/09

West Africa faces 'megadroughts'

Severe droughts lasting centuries have happened often in West Africa's recent history, and another one is almost inevitable, researchers say. Analysis of sediments in a Ghanaian lake shows the last of these "megadroughts" ended 250 years ago. Writing in the journal Science, the researchers suggest man-made climate change may make the situation worse. But, they say, the droughts are going to happen again anyway, and societies should begin planning for them. The research was led by Tim Shanahan from the University of Texas in Austin. The region's most recent dry episode was the Sahel drought which claimed at least 100,000 lives, perhaps as many as one million, in the 1970s and 80s. But the historical "megadroughts" were longer-lasting and even more devoid of precipitation, the researchers found. BBC News_ 4/16/09

Man in Kenya killed over water

As the hunger situation becomes more desperate in parts of the country a herdsman was allegedly hacked to death by another at Kawop location in Samburu North after a quarrel over water. Acting Samburu OCPD Osbon Mwawaza said the two herdsmen had quarrelled over whose animals would drink water first at a well. Water in some parts of the country has become a rare commodity in parts of the country as rivers and dams dry up following prolonged drought. KBC_ 3/28/09

Water and peace: A massive oasis could ease suffering in Darfur

In Darfur, survival is a constant struggle. Poverty, war, violence, and thirst are crushing facts of daily life. Water in the region is so scarce that some villagers have to travel for hours to reach the nearest well. This trek can often be dangerous — thousands of women have been beaten and raped while searching for water. Egyptian-American geologist Farouk El Baz hopes to change all of this. El Baz is the Director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University, and an expert at radar topography — a scientific technique he has used to find out what lies below the land's surface. Now he believes he has found a massive lake, the size of Lake Erie, hidden under the desert. El Baz believes this discovery means a possibility for peace in the region lies buried beneath the desert. In the 1990s, El Baz discovered water deep under the sands of Egypt and Libya, where he turned the desert into fertile farmland. He hopes to have the same impact in Darfur, where over 200,000 people have been killed in the country's civil war and 2.5 million displaced. ABC News_ 3/26/08

In Kenya, Samburu's pastoralists reel from acute water shortages

Beatrice Leparkulei treks more than 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) from Maralal Town carrying a jerrican of water. Mr Julius Leparkulei lies under a tree to shelter himself from the hot sun. He is equally worn out after walking for three days from Lolkujuta, where his elder son had earlier taken the family’s livestock in search of water and pasture. Like hundreds of pastoralists in Samburu District, who face shortages of water and food due to a severe drought that has hit the area recently, Mzee Leparkulei plans to move with his family to Lolkujuta, where he can find water and pasture for his animals with ease. The entire Samburu District is experiencing difficult times as many residents face acute food and water shortages. This has been occasioned by failed rains and lack of pasture. There are also fears that the situation, which is the prime cause of the ongoing ethnic conflict between the Samburu and the Pokot communities in Poro, may get worse if help is not forthcoming soon. “Water is in short supply. Clean water is even more unlikely. Most families have to do with only a little of it, in this case, a 20-litre jerrican of water that has to last for three days or more,” says James Lolochum, a public health officer based in Marti village. Daily Nation_ 3/18/08

One million Ethiopians face water shortage

More than one million people in eastern Ethiopia's drought-hit Somali region face critical water shortages, the United Nations said Wednesday.  "A joint multi-sectoral Drought Emergency Response Plan.... has been released by the regional government. The plan indicates that more than one million people are currently facing critical water shortage," the UN humanitarian agency OCHA said in a statement.  "The response plan, which focuses on life-saving interventions in health and nutrition, water and sanitation, and livestock and agriculture, aims to mitigate the impacts of drought due to poor consecutive seasonal performance in 2007 coupled with the current dry season," the statement added.  Inquirer.net_3/5/08

Somalia: Food, water shortages hit Galgadud

Little or no rain in Abudwaq district of the central Somali region of Galgadud has resulted in serious food and water shortages for thousands of residents, local administrative officials said. The problem is most acute in the villages of Dhabad, Bali Ad, Galmeygag, Buulaley and Ari Adeys, Mohamed Awil Janagale, the district commissioner of Abudwaq, told IRIN on 28 January. He said the Deyr (short rains), which usually fall in October-December, had been virtually non-existent. A Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) report issued on 10 January confirmed that the Deyr rains had been below normal in most parts of central Somalia, resulting in limited grassing for animals and reduced water availability. UN IRIN/AllAfrica.com_ 1/28/08

Desert detective Farouk el-Baz found a huge aquifer in Darfur - from his office at Boston University

Farouk el-Baz has been peering into the deserts of the world for 21 years – from hundreds of miles up and 10,000 miles away. The Egyptian-born geologist and his staff pore over satellite imagery at Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing, seeking clues to deserts' most precious resource: water. The water reserves he announced in April may increase an even more precious resource: peace in Darfur. So important is the potential Massachusetts-size underground aquifer, the remains of a lake that dried up 5,000 to 11,000 years ago, that when the news broke, Baz got a call to speak to the head of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon. "I briefed the secretary-general personally," Baz says. "He doesn't have 10 minutes for some heads of state, but I gave him a 10-minute presentation, and then he asked questions for 40 minutes. He loved it." Some 3.5 million people in Darfur are living without reasonable access to water, says Craig Miller, president of Thirst No More, a humanitarian group based in Texas that is working on water projects in Darfur and Peru. Now the UN, Egypt, and even the Sudanese government – which has been accused of complicity in the attacks – have signed on to finance the Baz-initiated "1,000 wells for Darfur" project. First, the UN will dig 24 wells to test Baz's premise once safety conditions on the ground permit, most likely next year. If those wells are successful, they will supply water for the 26,000 UN troops headed for Sudan. Baz has done this before; he found an ancient lake in Egypt in the early 1980s. It took him 15 years, though, to persuade his homeland to dig the first well and another few years to convince them that the water was plentiful there. Today Egypt has 500 wells yielding enough water to last an estimated 100 years and support 150,000 acres of agriculture in the area around an ancient lake. Christian Science Monitor_ 10/17/07

Water: Another disaster brews in Darfur

Wells at the giant Darfur Abu Shouk refugee camp are drying up. Women wait as long as three days for water, using jerrycans to save their places in perpetual lines that snake around pumps. A year ago, residents could fill a 5-gallon plastic can in a few minutes, but lately the flow is so slow it takes half an hour. Water isn't the only endangered resource. Forests were chopped down long ago, and the roots were dug up for firewood. Thousands of displaced families are living atop prime agricultural land, preventing nearby farmers from growing food. As the Darfur conflict approaches its fifth year, the environmental strain of the world's largest displacement crisis is quickly depleting western Sudan's already-scarce natural resources. And experts say that is exacerbating chronic shortages of land and water that contributed to the fighting in the first place. "There is a massive resource problem in Darfur," said environmentalist Muawia Shaddad, head of the Sudanese Environment Conservation Society. "We've been shouting about this for years, but no one listened." In the struggle to bring peace to Darfur, where an estimated 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million more have been displaced, questions about dwindling natural resources have largely been brushed aside as the emergency effort focused on saving lives and feeding the hungry. But with reports bubbling up from Darfur camps about water shortages, over-stressed land and increasing deforestation, aid workers and Sudanese activists say finding long-term solutions to the region's environmental woes is just as crucial as restoring security and reaching a political compromise. Los Angeles Times_ 10/1/07 (logon required)

Editor's Note: LA Times photographer Carolyn Cole provides superb photos to accompany this story.

Zimbabwe city warns of health risk as it cuts water
Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, warned residents on Wednesday to guard against outbreaks of disease as it was forced to cut their water supply. Authorities said they had decommissioned one of Bulawayo's three remaining dams because water levels were too low, leaving in operation only two of the five dams that supply the southern city of about one million people.  Urban areas in Zimbabwe are struggling to provide services due to ageing infrastructure, including burst sewer pipes, and because foreign currency shortages have hampered imports of raw materials such as water treatment chemicals.  Inflation in Zimbabwe has risen above 4,500 percent, the highest in the world, while an eight-year economic recession has hit urban workers and resulted in shortages of fuel and food.   Reuters_7/18/07

Underground lake may bring Darfur peace: scientist
A newly found imprint of a vast, ancient underground lake in Sudan's Darfur could restore peace to the region by providing a potential water source to an area ravaged by drought, a U.S. geologist says.  "What most people don't really know is that the war, the instability, in Darfur is all based on the lack of water," said Farouk el-Baz, director of Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing.  The potential water deposits were found with radar that allowed researchers to see inside the depths of the desert sands. The images, el-Baz said, uncovered a "megalake" of 19,110 square miles -- three times the size of Lebanon.  Widespread environmental problems are a root cause of Sudan's violence, the U.N. Development Program said in a report last month, noting that deserts had spread southwards by an average of 62 miles over the past four decades.  Many refugees from Darfur settled in regions that were once the domain of nomads, straining water resources and sowing conflict between farmers and nomads, said el-Baz.  El-Baz, who expects groundwater deposits below the surface can be drilled for water, hopes for backing from other regional governments and has urged non-governmental organizations to get involved. Reuters_7/18/07

Ethiopia: Expert calls for integrated management to curb water shortage

The country is paying heavy prices as a result of lack of attention given to Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), a practice which could have gone a long way to solve the now worsening water shortage throughout the regions. The statement was made by an environmental activist and coordinator while presenting a study on the theme surrounding the concept and practice of IWRM. Kidane Mariam Jembere, an environmental expert and coordinator of Ethiopia Country Water Partnership (ECWP) explained that IWRM is a process which promotes development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner with out compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystem. The expert attributed current water scarcity in the country to the failure in recognizing the concept and practice of IWRM which he said is hardly implemented in the country. Kidane Mariam Jembere gave the lecture at a public meeting organized by Forum for Environment under the title Towards Effective Water Resource Management in Ethiopia. Daily Monitor/All Africa.com_ 7/3/07

UN urges Africa to act on drought and other warnings of climate change

Africa, the continent most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, is not acting urgently enough to stem the dire economic and environmental damage of greenhouse gas emissions, the UN cautioned yesterday. The warning came after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report on Friday detailing the impacts of global warming, which, it said, will wreak most havoc on the world’s poor. Incorporating indigenous practices with proven scientific methods to reduce the catastrophic effects of flooding and drought would empower local communities in adapting to climate change. The IPCC report found that up to 1.8 billion people in Africa will face water insecurity by the end of the century unless measures are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. AFP/The Herald_ 4/11/07

East Africa nomads lost all to severe drought, then floods

Already weakened by the drought that annihilated their precious livestock, nomads in Kenya's arid northeast are now grappling with devastating floods, which have killed over 100 people and displaced more than 1 million across Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Rwanda. Aid agencies say nomadic people are the most vulnerable in the region because their entire livelihood depends on the climate. But persistent drought and lack of rain have forced many nomads to change their lifestyle, and some have settled into farming or moved to cities in search of jobs. Hundreds of people and tens of thousands of livestock died of hunger during last year's drought. Forecasts suggest the rains could continue through December and spread into other countries in central and southern Africa. In neighboring Wajir district, aid agencies and public health officials are bracing themselves for a surge in malaria cases. They fear other diseases such as cholera might break out from a lack of proper latrines and water hygiene. Reuters/CNN.com_ 12/20/06

Sierra Leone: Water starvation ends in the south

Water has become one of the most difficult things to get not only in the capital Freetown, but in many parts of the rural areas where streams are far away or non- existent, but the provision of wells seem to be alleviating the situation. The people of Njaluahun in the Koya chiedom in Bo, the southern administrative headquarter of the country, are the proud beneficiaries of a gravitated water supply system, the first in their history. The water supply system, which serves the entire township and surrounding villages, was implemented through the National Commission for Social Action's Community-Driven Programme. The Freetown Independent/AllAfrica.com_ 12/20/06

Satellites weigh Africa's water
Africa has experienced a significant drying in the past three years, new satellite data reveals.  The volume of water lost from the land amounts to 334 cubic km, which is almost as much as all Africans have consumed over the period.  The data comes from NASA spacecraft that can detect changes in gravity caused by water as it cycles between the sea, the atmosphere and the land.  Experts stress no firm conclusions should be drawn from the short study.  Professor Jay Famiglietti from the University of California-Irvine said much longer times series were needed to detect real trends and any signal that might indicate a significant shift in climate.  "There are natural climate variations, the natural ups and downs," he explained.  "Another big factor is human control of the water cycle - reservoir management, the storage of water on continents.  "Groundwater mining leads to heavy depletions of water. Wetland drainage, river diversion projects - all of those factors contribute to these storage variations that we see and we'll be working on trying to sort those out over the next few years," he told the BBC.   BBC_12/13/06

Drought drops levels of Africa's great lakes

At 27,000 square miles, the size of Ireland, Victoria is the greatest of Africa's Great Lakes -- the biggest freshwater body after Lake Superior. And it has dropped fast, at least six feet in the past three years, and by as much as a half-inch a day this year before November rains stabilized things. The outflow through two hydroelectric dams at Jinja is part of the problem -- a tiny part, says the Uganda government, or half the problem, say environmentalists. But much of what is happening to Victoria and other lakes across the heart of Africa is attributable to years of drought and rising temperatures, conditions that starve the lakes of inflowing water and evaporate more of the water they have. An extreme example lies 1,500 miles northwest of here, deeper in the drought zone, where Lake Chad, once the world's sixth-largest, has shrunk to 2 percent of its 1960s size. And the African map abounds with other, less startling examples, from Lake Turkana in northern Kenya, getting half the inflow it once did, to the great Lake Tanganyika south of here, whose level dropped over five feet in five years. Now, in a yet unpublished report obtained by the Associated Press, an international consulting firm advises the Ugandan government that supercomputer models of global-warming scenarios for Lake Victoria ''raise alarming concerns'' about its future and that of the Nile River, which begins its 4,100-mile northward journey here at Jinja. A further dramatic drop in Victoria's water levels might even turn off this spigot for the Nile, a lifeline for more than 100 million Egyptians, Sudanese and others. AP/Chicago Sun Times_ 12/10/06

Rain capture could end Africa's water woes: UN

Rainwater harvesting could prove a cheap, easy solution to Africa's water woes, according to a UN report. Scientists found enough rain falls in some countries to supply six or seven times the current need, and provide security against future droughts. A pilot project in a Kenyan Maasai community has improved supplies and done away with the daily trek to collect river water. Currently, 14 out of 53 nations are classified as "water stressed". This number is forecast to double by 2025. Using geographical information systems (GIS) technology, scientists from UN Environment Programme (Unep) and the World Agroforestry Centre mapped rainfall patterns across nine countries in southern and eastern Africa. Kenya, with a population of about 40 million people, could collect enough rain to supply six or seven times that figure, Unep calculates; Ethiopia, often regarded as a dry country, could collect enough for half a billion people. BBC News_ 11/13/06

University of Nevada at Reno students hold concert for Africa drought aid

Some University of Nevada Reno students are trying to make a difference in the lives of people living in poverty in Africa. Students from the Progressive Organization Council and a UNR alum who traveled to Africa put on a concert to raise donations at the Manzanita Bowl Sunday. The event was called "From Reno to Africa." Organizers hoped to raise $5,000 to send to areas of Africa stricken by severe drought. Some of the aid will go to people in Malawi. KOLO_ 10/15/06

Thirsty Africa must dig deeper for water
New water sources are desperately needed in Africa where some 300 million people lack access to safe drinking water, the head of World Water Council said on Thursday.  Sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of a few countries, is failing to meet U.N. targets set at the start of the millennium to halve the number of people without access to clean water or sanitation by 2015.  Out of an estimated population of more than 700 million, about 313 million Africans lack access to basic sanitation with drought, war, pollution and fast urban growth hindering access.  "Africa represents about 24 percent of land surface yet has only 9 percent of water resources," said Loic Fauchon, head of the World Water Council, an international organisation that groups governments, firms and civil society groups.  "That means we have to better the capacity we have to find other water sources maybe with new techniques. ... You have to help Africa draw water deeper just like it is done for petrol and gas," he said without giving details.  Reuters_9/21/06

In Niger, using vacation to help the world’s poor

The plan was to hand-carry supplies to remote encampments, returning with handicrafts to sell in the United States to generate profits to help build schools, restore wells and support women’s cooperatives. There, in an remote area of the Sahara known as the Azouag, about 50 families of Wodaabe nomads are trying to survive, scrounging for vegetation for their herds and looking for water from wells dug 100 feet deep by hand. Cash from cooperatives softens the blows of drought and famine that periodically sweep the country. Health statistics in Niger are appalling: there is about one doctor for each 33,000 people; one woman out of every 20 dies in childbirth and about a quarter of all babies die before age 5. A good well, a place to store grain, a small garden and a school are the beginnings of a nomadic community. Digging or repairing a well costs from $2,000 to $7,000, and the Nomad Foundation has identified more than 100 that are on the verge of collapse. New York Times_ 8/20/06 (logon required)

Flash flood in Kenya's drought-stricken northern Marsabit district kill four: Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS)

Marsabit is one of the areas hit by drought early this year, prompting President Mwai Kibaki to declare a state of national disaster in January, after the pastoralist communities living there suffered severe water and food shortages. In June, the Famine Early Warning System warned that the food security situation in the area remained precarious despite the improved availability of water and pasture following some rains. IRIN/AllAfrica.com_ 8/10/06

July, 2006

Mauritania: Waiting for the rains, poorest struggle to survive

Water is as precious as gold in Mauritania's baking hot villages, and probably seems just as heavy for the women and children who trek 15 kilometres or more every day to pump barrels of it out of the ground, hauling it home on their heads and on donkeys. The annual three month rainy season from July to October promises a brief respite from that gruelling job, and a short window to grow food for the year ahead. But as rainfall throughout the Sahel region has plummeted in recent years, a reliable growing season has become more mirage than certainty. Water has never been plentiful in Mauritania. Its people have elaborate rituals and customs built around sharing and preserving it, and few crimes are worse than wasting or spoiling a drop. But neither has the precious liquid ever been so scarce before. In some regions, locals told IRIN they could recall when water lay just centimetres below the surface all year round. Today in the same places, the water table has sunk to lower than 60 metres, and easy-to-reach groundwater is never there for longer than four months after the seasonal rains fall. IRIN_ 7/20/06

May, 2006

Experts discuss water supply to poor in East Africa

Experts from around East Africa are meeting this week in Kenya's capital to discuss how to supply one of the continent's most basic needs, clean water. In many East African cities large areas have no access to running water and are sometimes forced to turn to private vendors who are often unregulated and offer poor quality water at high prices. Experts are trying to find ways to resolve the problem. Kenyan government statistics indicate that more than a million people living in the slums of Nairobi depend on a private vendors with small kiosks or tankers as their primary source of water. A further 1.7 million are estimated to depend on these private vendors as a secondary water source. In a city of around three million, that means only 200,000 people have access to clean, running water all the time. In the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam, 56 percent of households get their water from private vendors, while in the Ugandan capital Kampala, private vendors supply 30 percent of households with their water. VOA_ 5/29/06

Kenya: Dysentery outbreak from contaminated water kills 13 children in northeast

An outbreak of dysentery in northeastern Kenya's Mandera District has claimed the lives of 13 children over the past two weeks, health officials said on Tuesday, blaming the epidemic on contamination of water sources during the current rainy season, which follows a severe drought in the remote, arid area. Thousands of livestock in Mandera and the neighbouring Wajir districts died during the drought, and the fields were littered with rotting carcasses when the rains started to fall. "Many of the carcasses were washed into water pans, where they created a good environment for bacteria to breed. Human waste also flowed into the water, which was subsequently used by the people," said James Kisia, a doctor who heads the health section at Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS). He noted that communities in the affected area - most of them nomadic pastoralists - had few latrines, a fact that created a major sanitation problem, especially during the rainy season. IRIN/allAfrica.com_ 5/16/06

April, 2006

Uganda to face severe water shortage

Uganda is likely to face a severe water shortage by June this year, the minister of state for Water, Ms Maria Mutagamba, has said. "According to weather experiences in the country, serious drought is expected by June which will lead to severe water shortage in the country," she said. Mutagamba advised the public to construct houses with big water reservoirs to keep water, which will use during the crisis period. She said other countries experience similar water shortages, but skirt round it by storing water in tanks. The Monitor/AllAfrica.com_ 4/24/06

Africa is drying up and the relief organizations make barely a dent

In the Horn of Africa an estimated 11 million people are facing critical food shortages, partly because of lack of water. The usual water wells have gone dry and people are digging deeper, sometimes 80 feet deep but they are poorly maintained and over-used. Water is not free to its users and many cannot afford it. Some groups like Islamic Relief cannot begin to meet the need. ReliefWeb_ 4/18/06

Slow death of Africa's Lake Chad, one of the world's great lakes

Lake Chad - shared by Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger - has receded to less than 20% of its former volume. Global warming is being blamed, as well as water extraction. it's shrunk from 15,000 to 500 square miles in 40 years. Just 30 years ago, Baga was a waterfront town. Now it is stranded many miles from the lake as the land around it becomes desert. The Sahara is moving southwards. BBC News_ 4/14/06

March, 2006

Drought-hit Eritrea expels international aid agencies

Letters have been sent to at least three agencies, including US charity Mercy Corps, the Irish agency Concern, and a British NGO, Acord. No reason was given for the move, only that they had not met the requirements for operational permits. At least one in three Eritreans is seriously short of food, as the country suffers from a drought which has hit the whole of the Horn of Africa. President Isaias Afewerki has repeatedly called on his people to practise self reliance. The aid agencies say they are hoping to discuss the issue with the government. But Eritrea has gradually reduced its relations with the entire world community. BBC News_ 3/22/06

Thirsty Africa struggles to meet water access goals

Drought, poverty, war, pollution and chaotic urban growth are preventing African governments from supplying clean water to their people, United Nations officials said on Sunday. With the exception of Uganda and South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa is failing to meet United Nations targets set at the start of the millennium to halve the number of people without access to clean water or sanitation by 2015, the U.N. said. Some 300 million Africans lack access to safe drinking water, and 313 million lack access to basic sanitation. Africa has an estimated population of over 800 million. The United Nations announced at a news conference a $550 million loan from the African Development Bank to be spent on small-scale urban water projects over the next five years. Reuters_ 3/19/06

Drought ravaging Kenya results in parents trading daughters as young as 8 for livestock and cash
It's one of the saddest side effects so far of an East African drought that has killed dozens and is threatening millions more with hunger. Child welfare advocates in Kenya report a sharp rise in forced early marriages, particularly among Masai families looking to replace lost livestock. Although drought has plagued East Africa for years, the failure of December rains and predictions that April showers will fall short has put more than 6 million people at risk in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and other countries. Humanitarian groups predict disaster if emergency food supplies do not reach the region by spring. Los Angeles Times_ 3/19/06 (logon required)

February, 2006

UN warns world on Africa drought
The world is in danger of allowing a drought in East Africa to become a humanitarian catastrophe, the UN warns. The UN special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Kjell Bondevik, says a disaster can be avoided if funding comes "in a matter of weeks... not months". Around 11 million people are in serious danger in Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti, the UN estimates. The World Food Programme, leading the aid effort, says it has only a third of what it needs to close the shortfall. Donors had committed just $186m (£106m) of the $574m (£327m) needed, the WFP says. BBC News_ 2/23/06

Somalis clash over scarce water; At least 12 killed
The severe drought in East Africa has led to fighting over water resources between Somali tribes in Ethiopia. At least 12 people have died and over 20 have been wounded in clashes in Yamarug village on the Somali border. Fighting broke out on Wednesday after the drought in the region increased competition for water and pasture. The clashes were between members of the Marehan and Majereteen factions of the Darod clan. Parts of Somalia are in the grip of the worst dought in 40 years. BBC News_ 2/17/06

Kenya drought threatens people, animals and national parks
Kenya's worst drought in a decade is having a devastating effect on national parks as humans and animals compete for increasingly scarce natural resources. Wildlife is straying out of the parks, and cattle and herdsmen are straying in as each tries to search wherever they can for food and water. Three people have been killed in as many months by the animals desperately foraging for food. BBC News_ 2/17/06

Hundreds of thousands affected by water shortages in Somalia
Hundreds of thousands of people in drought-hit areas of Somalia are facing dehydration, with some having to drink their own urine as chronic water shortages persist, aid agency Oxfam International said on Thursday.  Reuters_2/16/06

One-third of Africans lack drinking water
A report released at the 13th Congress of the African Water Association (AFWA) in the Algerian capital of Algiers warned that one-third of the African population has no drinking water and almost half of the African people have health problems due to the lack of clean drinking water.  If the current situation can't be improved, at least 17 African countries will suffer from a severe water shortage by 2010. The water shortage could also lead to clashes between some countries in the region, the report warned. Africa has abundant water resources amounting to 5.4 trillion cubic meters, but only 4 percent of them have been developed and utilized because of the lack of funds and facilities. According to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the world population suffering from water shortage should be reduced by half. On the African continent alone, at least $12 billion are needed each year to realize the goal.  Noticias_2/15/06

UK utilities worker on water discovery mission in West Africa
A 25-year-old student graduate is to discover at first hand the daily struggle of finding safe drinking water in West Africa. Ben Caulfield, who works for United Utilities in Warrington, leaves on Monday for a 12-day trip to landlocked Burkina Faso on a fact-finding mission for WaterAid. The charity provides safe water and sanitation to the developing world. BBC News_ 2/5/06

Drought forces Tanzania power cuts

Tanzania has introduced daytime power cuts, after drought left hydroelectric plants short of water. Water levels in the main hydroelectric source are only 59cm (2 feet) above the level at which production would have to halt, the energy minister said. Failed rains across East Africa have left some 11 million people needing food aid in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. BBC News_ 2/2/06


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