East Africa to receive £17 million in UK support to combat climate change disasters

·3 min read
Decomposing giraffes piled on top of each other in Kenya's Sambuli Wildlife Conservancy near the Somali border - Ed Ram/Getty Images
Decomposing giraffes piled on top of each other in Kenya's Sambuli Wildlife Conservancy near the Somali border - Ed Ram/Getty Images

The UK has announced £17m of support for East Africa as the region battles a series of environmental disasters driven on by climate change.

Millions in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia face extreme hunger because of failed rains, while flooding in South Sudan has forced more than 350,000 people to flee their homes.

An ongoing drought in Somalia has been compared to the 2011 famine, that killed an estimated 260,000 people.

In Kenya, one of the wealthiest nations in Africa, which boasts some of the best arable lands in the region, the situation is particularly striking.

Parts of northern Kenya have received only 30 per cent of normal rainfall since September, meaning that thousands of livestock and wild animals have died en masse.

A photo of six decomposing giraffes piled on top of each other in Kenya's Sambuli Wildlife Conservancy near the Somali border has come to symbolise the desperate situation.

On Monday, the Kenyan government said that almost 50,000 school children faced starvation in central Isiolo county.

Alex Murithi from Kenya's National Drought Management Authority said that children in the northern Isilo county were skipping meals and being forced to fetch water from miles away instead of going to school.

The World Food Programme has said that some 2.4 million people in Kenya are at risk of going hungry, including more than 465,000 children.

While droughts and famines are not uncommon in the region, scientists say they are happening ever more frequently because of climate change.

Although Africa accounts for less than 4 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it's warming faster than any place on earth. The continent's ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 2005.

In a statement Vicky Ford, minister for Africa, said: “Catastrophic droughts and floods, paired with ongoing conflicts and poor governance in Somalia, South Sudan and Ethiopia, are creating a perfect storm in East Africa which risks pushing hundreds of thousands of people into famine.

“The UK's commitment to supporting our partners in East Africa is unwavering and we know that early action now can prevent mass loss of life. This funding package will provide vital assistance to almost a million people across the region, helping those affected to access clean water and healthy food.”

The UK government claims that the aid money will help a million people.

The Famine Early Warning System Network has said they expect east Africa's next rainy season from March to May to be below average as well. They said in 2022, more than 20m people in the Horn of Africa will need emergency food aid because of the droughts and the conflict in northern Ethiopia.

The Network said that “most areas of the Horn” of Africa are now experiencing “record-low vegetation conditions, reflecting both degradation of pasture for livestock and wilting or absent crop growth”.

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