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Reposted from JekyllnHyde by JekyllnHyde

All photographs and captions in this diary are from Daisy Carlson  of Cool Hive.  They are being used with her explicit permission.

The children of East Africa are shouldering the burden of drought and climate change
For the past few weeks, most of Daily Kos has been preoccupied with news and political activism about Occupy Wall Street.  And deservedly so.  At its core, this grassroots movement is about inequality and inequity in the American economic system.  It has been festering for at least the past three decades (probably longer) when Reaganomics introduced "socialism for the rich 1%, predatory capitalism for 99% of Americans."  Corporate welfare policies and unethical lobbying of our elected representatives has institutionalized this trend and created huge gaps in wealth and income between the haves and have-nots.  

I think we all understand and appreciate the historical significance of these protests.  

That said, on any given day, hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of our fellow human beings are experiencing abject misery and poverty.  It is not too much of an exaggeration to assert that even in the worst of times, most Americans are better off than the overwhelming number of people in other countries, many of whom literally have nothing.  The worst famine in the Horn of Africa in decades moved many of you to donate generously when boatsie organized a fundraiser a few weeks ago.

To remind all of you, this humanitarian crisis in East Africa is far from over

In East Africa, a humanitarian disaster is fast unfolding. The worst drought in 60 years means that crops have failed and livestock have perished.  Poverty, climate change, and rising grain prices are combining to endanger a population already vulnerable to malnutrition and hunger-related diseases.  More than 10 million people are affected across areas of Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.  Multitudes are on the move, leaving their homes and walking hundreds of miles to seek food and medicine.

Will You Change Your Daily Kos Signature to Highlight This Crisis in East Africa?

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Médecins Sans Frontières today calls on international aid agencies to stop glossing over the reality of the spreading famine in Somalia and acknowledge that millions of people in the worst affected regions are beyond their reach.

Reporting from Mogadishu, Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri says the World Food Program, which is supplying food assistance in Somalia, acknowledges they may not be able to engineer an adequate response to the rapidly escalating crisis, which now impacts 4 million Somalis, 750,000 of whom are in danger of imminent death within the next few months.

While the UN says $1 billion is needed, some experts on the ground say at this point no amount of money can adequately address the many facets of this crisis. There are also huge shortages of resources for sanitation, water, medical supplies and emergency nutritional assistance and not enough time and capacity for delivery of services.

Watch Moshiri's report here.

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EID Prayer in Dadab camp for Somalian refugees. Photo by Montaser Marai

The UN announced today that famine has spread to a sixth Somalian region and that upwards of 750,000 deaths will occur within the next few months without immediate and drastic increase in aid efforts.

“We can’t underestimate the scale of the crisis,” Mark Bowden, the United Nations’s humanitarian coordinator for Somalia told the New York Times. “Southern Somalia is the epicenter of the famine area in the Horn of Africa. It’s the source of most of the refugees, and we need to refocus our efforts.”

Since July, when the UN declared three regions were experiencing famine, the famine has spread throughout a third of southern Somalia, including parts of Mogadishu. Today, the UN said the entire Bay Region is impacted, an area where 60 percent of the children are severely malnourished.

Tens of thousands have died over the past few months, according to Bowden, "over half of whom are children. That translates into hundreds a day.”


In other news:

Dadaab refugees face sexual violence on camp journey

Reports filing in on women walking with children for over 30 days being attacked and raped at gunpoint. Estimates are that almost 80 percent of new arrivals at Dadaab are women and children who are traveling without a male companion.  One woman, who made the journey with five grandchildren and one small cousin, told CBC's Carolyn Dunn: ""I was raped by seven men. One at a time, one at a time."

Follow the CBC Journalist tweeting live from Dadaab.

As reports continue to file out of East Africa on the disproportionate impact of the food crisis and drought on women, a report issued this week out of Pakistan Women unseen victims of resource wars linked to climate change confirms just how significant a role gender continues to play in the regions of the world most vulnerable to global warming.

According to an official report prepared by the Environment Wing, climate change could hamper the achievement of many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including those on poverty eradication, child mortality, malaria, and other diseases, and environmental sustainability. The report of the Environment Wing said like other poor countries, climate change is harder on women in Pakistan, where mothers have to stay in areas hit by drought, deforestation or crop failure.

Many destructive activities against the environment disproportionately affect them, because most women in Pakistan are dependent on primary natural resources: land, forests, and waters. In case of droughts they are immediately affected, and usually women cannot run away. Men can trek and go looking for greener pastures in other areas and sometimes in other countries.


World Risk Index

The UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security in Bonn has released a World Risk Index(WRI) to assist and shape responses to disasters. The WRI takes into account natural hazards as they relate to the unique vulnerablities of individual countries and is expected to assist aid organizations in jump starting responses to disasters.


Eritrea. Next Country to face Food Crisis

The BBC reports that despite government claims of a bumper crop, evidence is mounting that 2 out of 3 Eritreans may be experiencing acute hunger. A FEWS Satellite revealed below average rainfall from June to September and each month over 900 cross the country's militarised border.


Horn of Africa Timeline

The Telegraph has compiled a detailed overview of the food crisis in East Africa, beginning in February 2011 when the UN reported that over a six month period, over 30% of the Somalian population was experiencing acute malnutrition.

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Maasai herding’, painting by Kahare Miano (photo credit: ILRI/Elsworth).

As the CGIAR Consortium prepares for its Thursday live interactive panel on challenges and solutions to the Food Crisis in the Horn of Africa, the Famine Early Warning Network (FEWS NET) reports that reliance on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate model for long term climate adaptation and mitigation in East Africa greatly exacerbated the current crisis.

In a Nature News article We thought trouble was coming,  FEWS Net's Chris Funk says because agencies working in the Horn of Africa relied upon the IPCC's prediction of increased precipitation in East Africa, they failed to heed early warnings of severe drought and wide-spread food insecurity.

The global climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were never intended to provide rainfall trend projections for every region. These models say that East Africa will become wetter, yet observations show substantial declines in spring rainfall in recent years. Despite this, several agencies are building long-term plans on the basis of the forecast of wetter conditions. This could lead to agricultural development and expansion in areas that will become drier. More climate science based on regional observations could be helpful in addressing these challenges.

While the IPCC's 2007 4th Assessment report, in its section Mean Precipitation, does suggest a potential increase in precipitation in some areas of East Africa, upon evaluating all the data available at that time, the IPCC scientists concur:

While this result is generally consistent with the underlying GCMs and the composite MMD projections, there is a tendency for greater Sahel drying than in the underlying GCMs, providing further rationale (alongside the large spread in model responses and poor coupled model performance in simulating droughts of the magnitude observed in the 20th century) for viewing with caution the projection for a modest increase in Sahel rainfall in the ensemble mean of the MMD models.

The IPCCs Fifth Assessment Report is currently underway but is not scheduled for release until 2014.

Funk, a member of University of California, Santa Barbara, Department of Geology Climate Hazard Group, said FEWS began issuing early warnings last year after evaluating the impact of the La Niña weather system on East Africa.  

FEWS NET runs a food-price tracking system that showed that the price of maize (corn) in Kitui, Kenya, had soared by 246% in 12 months. And the value of a goat in Bardera, Somalia, usually sold to buy grain, had halved. Satellite measurements of vegetation health tracked the emerging drought in disturbing detail. FEWS NET put out a second alert on 7 June that warned: “This is the most severe food security emergency in the world today, and the current humanitarian response is inadequate.”

Along with faulty climate modeling, which resulted in the unsustainable expansion of rain fed agriculture crops in dry pastoral ecosystems, Funk reports that population expansion and more frequent droughts have overwhelmed local agriculture systems.

Emergencies such as the one in East Africa will become more common unless there is a focus on improving agricultural production. Ironically, the fact that crop yields are low creates a tremendous opportunity for improvement. A 50%, or even 100%, increase in yields is feasible . . . . In the long term, a more resilient system is needed, rather than an increase in the number of emergency grain shipments. Then, when disaster strikes, surplus food can be moved around the region—from Tanzania to Somalia, say.


CGIAR Consortium's Thursday press conference Research Options for Mitigating Drought-induced Food Crises focuses on solutions and challenges, and is informed by research on such topics as reintroducing traditional dry-land crops; implementing food storage systems; climate change and farming; micro-irrigation and the successful use of plant varieties; and inspiring and engaging youth in sustainable agriculture. (See Links Below.)

The meeting, which takes place at the ILRI campus in Nairobi, will be hosted on the Consortium's Horn of Africa page, where a live video link and chat channel provide opportunity for Q&A for remote participants.  (Times: 10:30-12:00 Nairobi time; 09:30-11:00 CET; 07:30-09:00 GMT; 3:30- 5:00 EST; 0:30 - 2:00 PST ).  Participants can submit comments or questions ahead of time on the HOA landing page; during the live event, questions can be submitted in real time via Twitter or the chat channel on the page.

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Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 11:37 AM PDT

East Africa After Irene: Ending Hunger Now

by cai

So, you made it through Irene.  

You're relieved.  Perhaps feeling slightly foolish at the amount of bottled water or granola you bought, or dreading scraping all the tape off your windows.  But feeling lucky to have food, water, and a roof over your head.  Walls too, even.

Maybe now is a good time to think of those in East Africa who right now have none of the above.

Join me below the fold for the donation link, and a fascinating talk by the head of the UN's World Food Programme called "Ending Hunger Now."

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Reposted from EcoJustice by boatsie

The final figures are in! Oxfam America announced last week that contributions received directly from Daily Kos for the August 6-7 #48forEastAfrica action netted $7,135!

We're not stopping there!  We're going for $10,000!

In other feedback from participants, Oxfam International, which wrote about the event and participated in the weekend social media action on Twitter, reports that visits to were double the average weekend traffic and that twitter tracking revealed between 600-700 uses of the #48forEastAfricahashtag  through Monday Aug. 8.

Note: While we were unable to figure out how to track the # of tweets and RTs en toto, a Google search on the hashtag #48forEastAfrica today shows 28,000 results!

Oxfam International's Digital Campaigner Richard Casson says:

Also, in terms of donations, as OI doesn't take donations directly we don't have any figures for how much was raised or whether it went it up over the weekend.  But what I would say is that normally traffic to our donation page on (which then refers users on to national donations pages) would drop over the weekend, but this Saturday and Sunday it stayed consistently high.

Additionally, other #48forEastAfrica participants raised $7,500 for Médecins Sans Frontières /Doctors without Borders (MSF) over the weekend of action.  

Several of the #48forEastAfrica participants were guest bloggers at Daily Kos. These included:  

• Samantha Bailey -'s Africa coordinator, Reporting from the Frontlines
• Laura Heaton - Enough Project Interview with Somalia Expert Ken Menkhaus
• James Greyson - BlindSpot:  Look both ways before you cross
• Daisy Carlson -  Cool HIVE: Blogathon Makes a Difference to a Child's Life

One of the most powerful reports was written by Oxfam intern Sophie McGrath, who works in the agency's Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, headquarters:  <

In 48 hours of blogging for East Africa’a personal experience of the food crisis with Oxfam in Ethiopia, Sophie describes her initial experience of the drought three months ago:

At this point, the drought there was not yet a crisis, and there was still hope that things would get better. ‘We are waiting on the rain’ said Hanura, a grandmother and carer of five. But though it did come in the end, it wasn’t long or heavy enough to change anything – for the cattle, most dead or dying, or their owners, losing their lifeline, their income to buy food, and walking half the day to get water.

On my last day, I’d just finished talking with Hanura when I heard a commotion in the distance – I thought it was a fight. But when my colleague and I approached we found an incredible sight: forty-odd women (and children) standing in a long line, clapping and swaying and chanting our names. They’d come to meet us and thank us for listening to their problems and requests. It was incredible – smiling, joyful people in bright psychedelic robes that dazzled against the pale sand and the pale sky like a vision. And then suddenly it was over, and we watched them disperse into the pale landscape.

As of August 7th, her report from Addis Ababa provides an inside look at how Oxfam switched into high gear in response to the crisis:

Three months on, I am also now helping in a more direct way: supporting Oxfam’s drought response in Ethiopia, chipping my own bit off the mountain of work that providing life-saving support on this scale requires. Here in the Addis Ababa office, I’m surrounded by people working an ungodly amount of hours seven days a week, every week, with teams on the ground across the worst-hit areas, giving life-saving assistance to those who need it most: from rural communities to Somali refugees in Dolo Ado refugee camp. Water, food vouchers, cash transfers, water-purifying tablets, latrines, refugee protection, the list goes on. I’ve watched the response gather pace with excitement: one day plans on paper, the next teams of experts arriving in the field, new boreholes meeting  thousands people’s daily water needs, 600 tonnes of supplies arriving in Dolo Ado…


Do I hear $10,000?

Let's raise another $3,000 for the #48forEastAfrica campaign to support the work of Oxfam in the Horn of Africa.

Here are a few reasons why:

"Safia Adem mourns the death of her son Hamza Ali Faysal, 3, in a camp of displaced Somalis within the rubble of the Cathedral of Mogadishu on August 13, 2011 in Mogadishu, Somalia. The malnourished child died of sickness two weeks after fleeing with his family from famine and drought in far southern Somalia. The US government estimates that some 30,000 children have died in southern Somalia in the last 90 days from the crisis."

Photograph: John Moore: Gettty Images.  See Time Magazine: Somalia: One Mother’s Unspeakable Loss

• Over 30,000 children have already starved to death over the past three months in East Africa.
• 3.7 million Somalians, more than 1/3 of the country's population, need emergency aid.
• In what is now being called the world's worst humanitarian crisis, over 12 million people are impacted by the worst drought in 60 years
• Although al Shabab has withdrawn from Mogadishu, they are still operating north of the capital, where drought conditions are also present.


Somalia famine predictions ignored

Eight months ago the warning signs of an impending famine in Somalia --  an escalating food crisis, ongoing drought and geopolitical instability -- were overlooked by donor agencies, an oversight which has resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths, writes Al Jazeera's Isaiah Esipisu.

Oxfam spokesperson Anna Ridout tells Al Jazeera that the situation "would not have been this bad if there was emergency response for prevention, despite the conflicts in the country."

Currently, with famine declared in a number of southern Somalia districts, Esipisu reports that the UN estimates nearly half of Somalia's population faces the potential of famine and 310,000 of the country's children are severely malnourished. In some regions, the deaths of children under five are three times higher than what the UN Children's Fund defines as famine: (where famine equals two fatalities out of 10,000, current rates are six out of 10,000).

According to Oxfam, the UN announcement, which is the first one in the region this century, should be a wake-up call to the rest of the world.

"There has been a catastrophic breakdown of the world's collective responsibility to act. 3,500 people a day are fleeing Somalia and arriving in parts of Ethiopia and Kenya that are suffering one of the driest years in six decades. Food, water and emergency aid are desperately needed. By the time the UN calls it a famine it is already a signal of large scale loss of life," Oxfam said.


African Drought Victims Create World's Largest Refugee Camp
By LISA FRIEDMAN of ClimateWire

Valerie Amos, the United Nations' undersecretary-general for humanitarian and emergency relief, said that from Mogadishu to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya -- now the world's largest -- it is clear that relief efforts are working, but more is needed.

Speaking upon her return from Somalia and Kenya, Amos described Dadaab as "more a city than a camp," with new arrivals from Somalia arriving, and dying, each day.

"I met one woman who had lost all four of her children on the journey from Somalia to Kenya," Amos recounted. "There's a tremendous amount of work going on in Dadaab to keep the camp and refugees in supplies. In the weeks ahead, we also need to step up our efforts to ensure the host communities in areas accepting refugees are being helped, as well."


The East African reports on A day at Dadaab: Five stages of desperation. Follow the excrutiating step-by-step process refugees face upon arrival at the camp -- from fingerprinting to nutritional screening  ("This is the first time small wails can be heard from the children who up to this point have been eerily quiet. Those labelled as severely malnourished are taken to a hospital in the camp where medical attention is given to them. Here it was rare to see the face of a man.") to food distribution to wrist banding -- only to be shuffled once again to the outskirts of the camp because of space limitations.



Daily Kos coverage of the crisis in the Horn of Africa began through the Ecojustice Group, which launched the #48forEastAfrica initiative.  

Active Participants in the weekend of action included, Oxfam International, WiserEarth, tcktcktck, DeSmogBlog, The Enough Project, BPI Campus, and Climate Change: The Next Generation


Next Steps: How you can help:

1. Donate now by clicking on the link below. REMEMBER TO ADD $.01 to your donation to enable Oxfam to keep track of all Daily Kos donations.
2. Follow the instructions below the fold to change your Daily Kos signature for a few weeks.
3. Participate in the #48forEastAfrica twitter campaign to direct traffic back to the coverage of the crisis at Daily Kos.
4. Sign up to write a diary. #48forEastAfrica hopes to publish one diary a  week to continue raising awareness and funds for the crisis in East Africa. (Indicate interest/availability in comments below or drop me an internal email)


Remember to add $.01 to your donation so it ends up being $5.01, $20.01, $50.01, $100.01, and so on.  This will enable Oxfam to keep track of all Daily Kos donations.

Please read this if you live outside the United States - to make a donation, click this link and scroll down a bit to find your country.  If not listed, please Google Oxfam in your country.

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I am posting this diary on behalf of Daisy Carlson of Cool HIVE, who is new to Daily Kos.  All of the photographs in this diary were taken by her.  

A Hungry child can wait in a food line for several hours to receive one scoop of gruel that is less than 500 calories.  Please donate today to feed a child to Oxfam.

The Drought in East Africa Continues

"Despite knowing their environment well, people in the Turkana or Oromo regions of southern Ethiopia were unable either to predict or cope with the severity of the long drought.  In Kenya, drought used to come every five years, and this region has always been food-insecure.  Now drought seems endemic, and the local pastoralists' coping mechanisms are overwhelmed", writes Simon Roughneen on May 14, 2010.  This devastating drought continues today and increases with catastrophic proportions for all species.  The depth and severity of the droughts in the Horn of Africa are the outcomes of climate change today.  As more carbon is released into the atmosphere globally snow covered mountains melt, rivers dry and rain ceases to fall. All of our lives depend on making annual steps towards an a 80% reduction in carbon emissions.  A 5% reduction a year throughout, in efficiency, use as well as increases in clean energy can make a world of difference.  If we all take a step by step incremental approach throughout all aspects of the energy landscape we can achieve the goal and protect crucial habitat, thus reducing drought and famines in the long term.  I hope my photographs inspire some of you to help in restoring balance to the lives of at least a few of these needy children.

Please donate to feed a child today.

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Reposted from ThisIsMyTime by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse

In the last 48 hours, there has been a huge fundraiser effort hosted by environmental websites and nonprofit organizations to benefit the 12 million people struggling for survival in the East African countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.

The people in East Africa have a huge famine crisis on their hands and according to US estimates, the famine has killed more than 29,000 children under age of 5 so far and leaving some 640,000 children acutely malnourished. According to the United Nations, 3.2 million out of the 7.5 million Somalis population need "immediate life-saving support".

Please do what you can to help by donating through Oxfam America, because we are human with humility and empathy that in this world where there is an abundance of food, a child must not go hungry and left to die.  

These are the faces of the famine in Somalia. PLEASE HELP. I will contribute $0.50 for the first 200 donations made whether it be a $5 or $500 donation. PLEASE DO WHAT YOU CAN and drop me a comment you made a donation.


Please read this if you live outside the United States - to make a donation, click this link and scroll down a bit to find your country.  If not listed, please Google Oxfam in your country.  

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Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 12:33 AM PDT

48 Hours for East Africa

by Chacounne

Reposted from Standing for justice and accountability, for Dan by boatsie

Have you ever been hungry ?

No, I don't mean, missed-breakfast-and-it's-Noon-hungry.

I mean, so hungry that it's takes every bit of strength you have to put one foot in front of the other.

Have you ever lived where the only food is not just blocks or miles away, it is days away, and the only way you have to get there is by foot ?

Have you ever had to make the decision to leave one of your starving children behind when you walk to the food, because he is too weak to make it that far and you have to save the lives of your other children ?

         No, me neither.

         To most of us it is incomprehensible.

To mothers and fathers in East Africa today, it is reality.

         What I can relate to, as someone who has been on welfare for the last year and a half while I go through the disability process, is the feeling of standing in line to be given food.

         There is a feeling of loss, because you don't have any say in what you are given to eat.

         There is a feeling of humiliation, because you have lost the ability to provide for yourself and your family.

         There is a feeling of resignation, because you know that standing in this line is what you have to do.

         Yet too, there is a feeling of grace, because you feel blessed that the food and the people handing it out are there.

         There is a feeling of gratitude, for the people who donated the food.

         If it is done right, the people and organizations handing out the food treat us as friends, as opposed to numbers, so we feel dignity.

         I pray that my sisters and brothers in East Africa are treated with kindness and respect, and that they feel dignity and love.

         I pray that you have an open heart to the millions of fellow humans who are starving in East Africa.

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Well, it looks like the MSM finally gets it.

Yup. Anderson Cooper is off to Mogadishu.  He'll be reporting live next week, as he is ever wont to do, from the epicenter of the most recent humanitarian crisis. CNN rolled out its original $1 million marquee in anticipation of his Monday evening broadcast: "On the Frontlines of Famine."

Damn, I wish we had thought of that title for this blogathon!

But hey, whatcha gonna do? True, there was no earthquake or tsunami, nor did a MENA country rise up en toto against a vicious dictatorship. It took the outbreak of cholera in Somalia's capital to kick that adrenaline into overdrive @AC360. That, along with the news that Richard Engel was there first and Dr. Jill Biden is en route on a "fact finding mission."  

Enough said.

If I were Anderson Cooper, I don't think I'd be sleeping in my United First Suite. I'd wanna be filling my adorable gray-haired head with F.A.C.T.S.

I'd want F.A.C.T.S. rolling off my tongue like the street music of some high-falutin-Grammy-Winnin' rapper.  Hell,  I'd throw that damn black t-shirt out, too. Stuff  an old Brooks Brothers shirt with cut off sleeves, a few buttons missing, into my backpack. Maybe I'd pick up a pair of Bermuda-frigging shorts from the Greenwich Village Goodwill on the way to JFK.


Remember to add $.01 to your donation so it ends up being $5.01, $20.01, $50.01, $100.01, and so on.  This will enable Oxfam to keep track of all Daily Kos donations.

Please read this if you live outside the United States - to make a donation, click this link and scroll down a bit to find your country.  If not listed, please Google Oxfam in your country.

If I were Anderson Cooper, I'd want to know what famine smells like. I'd want to feel that parched earth underneath my toes and stand in long lines desperate for just a few drops of water.  I wouldn't want to interview some volunteer with WFP or MSF or Oxfam. I'd want to climb inside the gut of that person and feel the experience as they do.

My Anderson Cooper wouldn't stick a microphone and camera in the face of someone whose mother is hours away from dying -- or just happens to conveniently pass while the film's rolling.

"Hell, no," I'd tell my bosses.  "Not this time. I'm going to let these people die with some dignity, you damn assholes."

If I were Anderson Cooper, I'd want some answers. Like why the hell are we still using the same playbook in a complex, utterly broken system?  Throwing everything we can at a situation we knew was gonna happen years ago, with 'acceptable losses' running over 1/2 a million people?

Since last year many organizations were predicting that there would be a drought in East Africa, largely because of the El Nino and La Nina situation. These are coming on the back of three or four years of inadequate rainfall in Somalia. So it was predicted - but nobody really reacted to it. So it’s as much political, probably even more a political problem, than a scientific one. What governments or NGOs should be working toward is making sure farmers can deal with the variability of the climate. Meteorologist Dr David Grimes

I'd want an interview with the director of SWALIM, (Somalia Water and Land Information Management) to find out about their data collection networks, which are being used "to facilitate better assessment of rainfall, river flow, groundwater resources, land characteristics, degradation and land suitability as well as improving flood warning and flood management."

One and a half decades of civil strife in Somalia have resulted in the loss or damage of most of the water- and land-related information collected in the previous half century. By producing baseline information, assessing natural resources, searching for existing information sources around the world, SWALIM is recovering as much of lost data as possible. The project is also re-establishing data collection networks in collaboration with partner agencies, to facilitate better assessment of rainfall, river flow, groundwater resources, land characteristics, degradation and land suitability as well as improving flood warning and flood management.

If I were Anderson Cooper, I would already know that countries in East Africa are predicted to be most severely impacted by climate change. That  the formula natural geography + climate + endemic poverty x extreme and unpredictable weather (record-breaking droughts x historic floods )= Chaos!

Shit, two of my top background sources would be president of the World Policy Institute Lester Brown and Danielle Nierenberg, Director of Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project, who recently said that agriculture is "the solution to mitigating climate change, reducing public health problems and costs, making cities more livable, and creating jobs in a stagnant global economy.”

Jim Hansen would be on my speed dial.

I'd be pushing for a preview of the 2014 release of the IPCCs 5th Assesment Report, knowing damn well that my dog-earred-dust-mitey copy of its 4th Assessment is way out of date.  

Still, I'd be well aware that rain fed agriculture, which currently accounts for 90% of Africa's staple food, will be severely impacted by an increase of between 3.2 degrees and 3.6 degrees Celsius over the next 50 years. I'd know all about the climate model experiments using AR4 climate scenarios and how the gridded model shows that:

   * East African climate is likely to become wetter, particularly in the Short Rains (October to December) and particularly in northern Kenya, in the forthcoming decades.
    * East Africa will almost certainly become warmer than present in all seasons in the forthcoming decades.
    * Changes in rainfall seasonality over forthcoming decades are unlikely.
    * A trend towards more extremely wet seasons is likely for the Short Rains, particularly in northern Kenya, in the forthcoming decades.
    * Droughts are likely to continue (notwithstanding the generally wetter conditions), particularly in northern Kenya, in the forthcoming decades. In many model simulations, the drought events every 7 years or so become more extreme than present.
    * The wetting component evident in observed Kenyan rainfall may well be a forerunner of the longer-term climate change.

I'd be at the top of my game.  I'd have researched the unique interaction between the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and the ENSO phenomenon ( El Niño/La Niña): the ITCZ strongly influences East Africa's two rainy seasons -- March-through-May and October-through-December, both of which were dry this year.

Several groups around the world have developed computer models to predict how increasing greenhouse gases will change the climate.

"Most of the models are actually suggesting that East Africa will become wetter," Mason says. "However, if we look at what's been happening in East Africa at least for the last decade or so, it's actually been getting quite a lot drier."

Mason says that drying trend is at least partly due to global warming, which is contributing to rising temperatures in the Indian Ocean. That creates conditions that draw moisture away from East Africa.

I'd know that East Africa's climate variability follows a pattern which is remotely effected by ENSO.  

ENSO with its warm phase (El Niño) and its cold phase (La Niña) is actually known as a climate phenomenon in the Pacific with global teleconnections. Using the example of climate variability in East Africa, the study shows the long-term impact of this phenomenon in this sensitive region.

The sediments in Lake Challa in south-eastern Kenya, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, serve as a climate archive. Sample cores that were drilled here show a pattern of stripes, so called annual laminae. Each individual layer holds information about the climate.

“The thickness of these layers varies according to the climate, from 0.08 to 7 millimetres,” explains Christian Wolff (University of Potsdam and GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences). “A comparison of temperature measurements in the tropical Pacific over the last 150 years shows a strong correlation between ENSO cycles and the rhythms of droughts and floods in East Africa.”

So before I got off that plane, I'd have digested all the info in the recent report: Reduced Interannual Rainfall Variability in East Africa During the Last Ice Age.

Interannual rainfall variations in equatorial East Africa are tightly linked to the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), with more rain and flooding during El Niño and droughts in La Niña years, both having severe impacts on human habitation and food security. Here we report evidence from an annually laminated lake sediment record from southeastern Kenya for interannual to centennial-scale changes in ENSO-related rainfall variability during the last three millennia and for reductions in both the mean rate and the variability of rainfall in East Africa during the Last Glacial period. Climate model simulations support forward extrapolation from these lake sediment data that future warming will intensify the interannual variability of East Africa’s rainfall.

If I were Anderson Cooper, I would have covered COP15 and COP16, the Bali Talks, the Bonn Talks, Tianjin.  I'd know all about Rio's first Earth Summit and about the irrefutable need to maintain Biodiversity to preserve life on the Planet.

I would have interviewed numerous experts about climate change's impact on global food security. So I would know how important it is that small scale indigenous farmers, who grow over 70% of the world’s agriculture and live in villages throughout East Africa, have the tools and resources to grow enough food to sustain themselves. Because by the year 2090, small-scale farmers will be the ones tasked with feeding a  projected 370 million hungry people.  I'd be talking to leaders in villages where BIA, hydroponics, and organic ag projects were underway. Where water catchment and food storage systems were being constructed.

Finally, if I were Anderson Cooper, I don't know if I would come home this time. Seriously. To what? Manufactured crises? The absurd media swarming in a foolish frenzy as bundles of billions are funneled into the 2012 elections? To The Koch Brothers dancing on the graves of True Blood-hungry Americans? To Facebook and Twitter and the Rupert Murdoch scandal?

Are you frigging kidding me?

If I were Anderson Cooper,  I'd choose to stay on. I'd bring all my money with me (or have my mommy send it along) and I'd get down to the damn serious business of "Keeping Them Honest" in the most vulnerable, most precious place in the world. The place we all, ultimately, call home.

We Are All Africans, Anderson. I'd remember that. And I'd stay put.

Come hell or high water.

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Please read this if you live outside the United States - to make a donation, click this link and scroll down a bit to find your country.  If not listed, please Google Oxfam in your country.

There is already an abundance of excellent writing on this topic this weekend.  All of my co-diarists have thoroughly covered the whats, whys, whens, etc. of the situation in Eastern Africa.  I especially want to point out wader's news review, Adam Siegel's historical perspective, and the utterly touching pleas ofOke, blue jersey mom, and Ellinoriane.  

One less-covered part of this story is why do we do what we do?  Why do I do what I do?  And how can we/I help?

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Please read this if you live outside the United States - to make a donation, click this link and scroll down a bit to find your country.  If not listed, please Google Oxfam in your country.

Daisy is the author of the diary, and I merely am posting for her as she is a new kos-friend.  I provided the link to her site at the end of her text.  I will also ask her to post an early comment so you can tip her.  
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