Drought in Africa 2017

 

Photo credit: IRIN

©UNICEF Ethiopia/2017/Nahom Tesfaye

Farmers, traders and consumers across East and Southern Africa are feeling the impact of consecutive seasons of drought that have scorched harvests and ruined livelihoods.

by 

Obi Anyadike

Editor-at-Large and Africa Editor

The El Niño-driven crisis has increased the malnutrition rates of rural children, and driven up food prices for urban residents. Livestock deaths and fire sales have slashed the asset wealth of pastoralists, and cumulative bad harvests will make recovery all the harder for small-scale farmers.

In the worst cases, where conflict has made farming impossible and reduced humanitarian access, there will be famine. That currently applies only to South Sudan, but could also include Somalia if the emergency response falters.

What makes food price spikes all the harder to bear is that there is rarely a corresponding increase in people’s wages. And when the drought is over, prices often stay stubbornly high, note researchers Paul Adams and Edward Paice.

A number of countries wrestling with the impact of El Niño have still recorded decent macro-economic growth rates, but food price inflation means those benefits are rarely felt by ordinary citizens.

There are a number of strategies governments could adopt to address the situation: from improving the tradability of food, to coordinated climate change adaptation strategies, to meeting the African Union target of allocating 15 percent of budget spending to agriculture.

Read the full article: IRIN

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.