Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Famine To Be Officially Declared

The UN is set to officially declare a famine in parts of southern Somalia. The drought and food crisis in the Horn of Africa up to this point has been categorized as an "emergency" which is one step behind a famine. There are five levels of food security classification ranging from "generally secure" to "catastrophe/famine". The last official famine to be declared was in Ethiopia in the mid 1980's. A famine is declared once death rates reach 2 per 10,000 per day and malnutrition rates are at or above 30%. The UN has called for $1.6 billion in aid but only half that has been met. The US has been especially reluctant to give aid to Somalia and has cut its funding by 88% due to the presence of insurgents linked to al-Qaeda. The US worries that the aid would fall into the wrong hands and benefit the terrorists. However the insurgents have declared an amnesty for aid deliveries. It will be interesting to see if the declaration of a famine will change any minds in Washington to increase funding. For more on the US position and its implications see this article. And for a visual reference of the drought and food crisis, this interactive map is a great resource. I'll definitely be blogging more about this situation and especially how the declaration of a famine affects aid to the countries so keep checking the blog!

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