01/05/03

Erratic weather fuels African hunger

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Food aid distribution in Ethiopia
Erratic weather patterns in the Horn of Africa are putting more than 12 million people at risk of starvation, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.

“We are experiencing a period of unprecedented crises,” WFP’s executive director James T. Morris told journalists in London. “The Horn has not had adequate rainfall this year.” The drought is part of an increasing number of serious and unusual weather patterns in Africa and around the world, he said.

The WFP estimates that at least 10 million people will need food aid in Ethiopia. In Eritrea, the number affected by the drought is estimated at over 2 million — about 60 per cent of the entire population. This is in addition to the current famine in southern Africa, which now threatens around 14.4 million people.

Morris underlined that drought is the prime cause of these famines, compounded by HIV/AIDS, poor governance and badly designed economic policies. “We’ve had very unusual weather patterns, and they’re serious,” he said. But he declined to comment on whether these were the result of human-induced climate change rather than natural weather cycles.

© SciDev.Net 2002

Photo credit: WFP/Wagdi

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