Drought and Famine : Surprise or Expected?

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Britain's possessions in British East Africa d...

Britain’s possessions in British East Africa during the colonial period. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once again as is usual in this part of the world (East Africa), there is famine brought on by the Drought that has ravaged Northern kenya and Somalia. As a result refugees pour into Ethiopia and Kenyan camps the largest being the one in Daadab east of Garissa in Eastern Kenya. This happens year in year out and has spun an industry consisting of a constellation of International and local NGOs, aid agencies and all manner of expatriates coming to “help the poor”.

In all honesty this has no end in sight since it is all reactionary. Next year we will be right here with the media peddling images of emaciated children with flies in their mouths and eyes to coax that money out of your wallet and into the newest aid agency on the block which probably got to you through Twitter. It does nothing to adress the root cause of why these guys are dying of hunger and how to solve it.

No-one talks of the fact that these people are mainly pastoralists, a culture that should have ended in the last century. Relying on cattle for sustenance is fine when there is endless pastureland and watering holes. but what happens when the sky doesnt open up for months and the pastureland turns to miles upon miles of dust and rocks? They beg for Aid, that’s what they do. I have fasted for a week so I know what it is like to sleep and wake up hungry. I am in no way belittling what they go through but setting yourself up for a failure whether knowingly or not has the same outcome year in year out. That way of life is not sustainable. everyone knows it. But nobody says it.

The Kenyan government rushes every time the area starts getting bad press and international investors start wondering if their investment is safe in a starving country. It is declared a national disaster and the begging bowls come out of the closet. Its despicable.



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I am a Geospatial Engineer currently working in Nairobi. Into good food, a hearty laugh, and new sights and sounds. Believe technology is the saviour of Africa but staying true and grounded in our culture is vital.


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  1. Empress Ashaki says

    Ethiopia has avoided famine from this drought through fail safes and plans enacted by its government in 1980. So, they have learned how to keep themselves from starvation from the help that was given them during the Ethiopian famine in the 80s. It’s true we must be solution oriented.It’s better to help than to complain about having to help.

  2. says

    I share your frustration with this Mark. What pains me is exactly this- we know this is coming and we know exactly when but the lack of commitment on the part of East African leaders to find a lasting solution is mind boggling to say the least. But as one University professor put it Hunger like neglected diseases affect neglected people and as such it is little wonder that the situation is such as it is!
    ethnicsupplies recently posted..Why do 60% of UK public think overseas Aid is wasted? Part 2My Profile

  3. Profile photo of Mwangi says

    @ Toma’s (hope I got that right) I don’t think we need foreign help maybe education but all the manpower we need is available right here. As I speak there is a food surplus in the west of the country. Why that food is not getting to the East is due to pure inefficiency and profit hungry individuals importing food for the “crisis”

    @Ethnic supplies the problem is short sighted profit fueled individuals and the considerable power they inexplicably wield.
    Mwangi recently posted..Famine in the 21st centuryMy Profile

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