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Please begin with an informative title:

East Africa Food Crisis: 48 Hours of Action

This weekend, Daily Kos is participating in 48-Hour Fundraiser 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.  Last week, the United Nations announced famine -- already declared in two districts -- is likely to spread throughout southern Somalia. This week, the UN issued a warning that food insecurity in northern Uganda is sufficiently alarming to raise the possibility that the country might become the fifth nation impacted by the worst drought in the Horn of Africa in sixty years.

Also participating in this weekend of action are 350.org, Oxfam International, WiserEarth, tcktcktck, DeSmogBlog, MIT Climate CoLab, BPI Campus, Climate Change: The Next Generation, RedGreenAndBlue.org, Cool HIVE, MedicMobile, and The Enough Project.

Over the course of the weekend, experts in the field of humanitarian assistance will join environmental writers to outline the history of the region and detail how geopolitics, colonialism, ongoing civil wars, climate change and geographic vulnerabilities have combined to create the perfect storm now ravaging East Africa.

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Each participating organization is choosing its particular group for donated funds.  Daily Kos is donating all monies raised to directly support the work of Oxfam in the Horn of Africa.

Please 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.

Click here to Go directly to Oxfam's donation page.

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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Intro

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

A number of DKos regulars and some special guests will be blogging over this weekend about the drought, conflict and famine that are severely impacting the lives of millions in Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and now Uganda.  Most of these diarists have enlightening perspectives and/or relevant research to help paint a large and deep picture of just what is happening in East Africa that requires our support to help alleviate.  We are all seeking to inform and help you consider how you might effectively help our less fortunate, fellow humans who are trying mightily to at least survive and stay safe in these increasingly hostile environments.

Unfortunately, I have nothing to offer in terms of germane experience or research on this multifaceted and ultimately frustrating topic: I'm admittedly overwhelmed by the apparent suffering due to environmental extremes and complex politics in their regions, and simply wanted to show support for this highly directed effort.  I'm guessing that you would like to help show support, as well.  We're liberals of various stripes - sincere sympathy is one of our shared qualities.

As an Overnight News Digest editor, I've come across various angles over the past year on what is happening in East Africa and its history that got us to this point of true crisis; so, below is an OND-styled, brief view of news abstracts, meant to provide a sense of how difficult the problems in East African countries suffering from drought, famine and conflict happen to be, but also intended to offer that it appears imperative we allow our compassion and desire to understand lead us towards making best choices in trying to help; the highly respected and locally effective Oxfam is linked from within our series of diaries as one option to consider in offering assistance to those Africans in need.

As with any News Digest, your comments make this diary meaningful - the below articles are intended as starting points for discussion and possible aids in driving your natural curiosity to learn more.  Their inclusion here does not imply that I agree with all aspects of their contents, even if I guessed that they might fall under your areas of interest on this topic.  I will request your cooperation on one aspect of ONDs, please: severely divisive topics at this site are best debated elsewhere, as this is a generally neutral ground for discussion and sharing of what we're seeing and learning.  Because of the specific East Africa focus, that makes the need for cooperation even more critical, so that each of us can begin to concentrate on how to best help from our unique situations.

Please feel free to browse and add your own news links, content or thoughts in the Comments section.

CLICK THE BELOW LINK TO MAKE A DONATION

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, http://www.oxfam.org/... class="donate-link" target="_blank">click this link and scroll down a bit to find your country.  If not listed, please Google Oxfam in your country.

Top News
Horn of Africa aid caravan too late, again

By Barry Malone
. . .

This humanitarian, diplomatic and media circus is necessary every time people go hungry in Africa, analysts say, because governments -- both African and foreign -- rarely respond early enough to looming catastrophes.

. . .

"Measures that could have kept animals alive -- and providing milk, and income to buy food -- would have been much cheaper than feeding malnourished children, but the time for those passed with very little investment," Levine said.

The drought gripping the region straddling Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia is the worst for 60 years, some aid groups say, and is affecting more than 12 million people. In the worst-hit area in Somalia, 3.7 million people are at risk of starvation.

. . .

"What they are really interested in is security in Somalia. Since 9/11 a development for security agenda has come in with big donors like USAID and (Britain's) DFID," said a former senior aid worker in the Horn of Africa.

. . .

Analysts say that, without tackling the political complications that influence the distribution of food aid, and even the use of the word "famine," droughts will remain difficult both to prevent and to manage.

Somali famine spreads to three more areas, says UN

By (BBC)
. . .

"A humanitarian emergency persists across all other regions of southern Somalia, and tens of thousands of excess deaths have already occurred," the UN unit said in a joint statement with the US-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet).

. . .

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the militants to let the aid through.

. . .

Some 3.2 million people in Somalia are in need of immediate life-saving assistance - almost half the population, the UN says.

According to the FSNAU and Fewsnet, the situation has been compounded by the rise in prices of food staples in Somalia - they have more than doubled since 2010, and in some areas have tripled.

International
East Africa drought: Uganda has problems, but it is no Somalia

By Ben Jones
. . .

Karamoja is a wide swath of semi-arid land in the north-west of Uganda – it runs along the Ugandan side of the Uganda-Kenya border. It covers an area of more than 27,000 sq km and has a population of more than 1 million people. When current news reports add Uganda to the list of drought-affected countries (alongside Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia), it is Karamoja that is being referred to.

People here are waiting to see if the rains are enough to bulk up the crops that are soon to be harvested. The April rains that were meant to get the crops growing came late, and last week there was considerable tension as to whether or not the second rains would come. Some people were accused of stopping the rain – there is a widely held belief that individuals can prevent rain – and were punished. These accusations make sense to people for a variety of reasons, not least the way the rain falls in a capricious way. It can bucket down in one village, while the next village remains dry.

The situation here is not the crisis facing Somalia. As John Vidal argued on the Guardian's Comment is Free site, droughts that turn into famines are man-made disasters. That people will die in Somalia this year is not down to drought alone, but because of the standoff between different warring factions within the country, and the way different international actors make the crisis in Somalia worse. While we may think of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia as a "biblical disaster" being visited on an impoverished nation, the deaths were largely the result of an ongoing civil war, the collapse of government services and the decision by the ruling regime to resettle rural populations.

Mogadishu machinations: Is the famine an opportunity?

By Andrew Harding
. . .

Like many officials I have met in Mogadishu this week, Gen Mugisha sees the famine not only as a tragedy, but also as "an opportunity" to break Somalia's complex political stalemate and stabilise the country.

In private, one African official here even went further - obscenely far - calling the famine "a blessing" because it would "jolt the UN and the US into proper action".

. . .

But the key issue is the impact the famine may have on al-Shabab, and its support in the communities it controls.

. . . I have spoken to many local and international non-governmental organisations which are quietly succeeding in getting aid directly to the hungry in al-Shabab areas without paying "taxes" to the local authorities.

In private, many of those organisations single out US legal restrictions as their biggest obstacle.

Deadly firefight over Somalia famine aid

By (Al Jazeera)
At least 10 Somalis, among them refugees, have been killed in a firefight in Mogadishu after troops and residents looted vehicles carrying food meant for famine victims, witnesses say.

The witnessess said government troops fired shots and fought among themselves as they looted maize and oil in the Somali capital on Friday.

Earlier, one witness said he saw a soldier killed and dozens of refugees wounded at Badbaado camp, home to about 30,000 refugees.

. . .

News of the firefight came as Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, called for the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to hold an emergency meeting on the famine in Somalia.

ICRC wants food for Somalia but can't take U.N. aid

By Tom Miles and Richard Lough
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) almost doubled its budget for Somali aid Thursday but said it would not be able to help U.N. food supplies get through to starving Somalis.

ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger said his independent agency was boosting its emergency operation to help 1.1 million people in the famine-stricken country and was asking donors for an extra 67 million Swiss francs ($86 million) in 2011.

He said the ICRC had good access to southern Somalia, much of which is controlled by Islamist militants, with two supply routes through Somali ports and one overland from Kenya, but the humanitarian organization needed more supplies.

That contrasts with the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), which has the food but says it cannot reach more than two million Somalis in the worst-hit areas because the militant group al Shabaab has blocked access to most aid agencies.

Kenya drought: Starvation claims 14 lives in Turkana

By (BBC)
At least 14 people have died in Kenya's north-eastern Turkana region - the first hunger-related Kenyan deaths in the current regional drought.

The MP for Turkana, John Munyes, said the deaths were in three remote villages after the government failed to transport food to drought victims.

The UN says more than four million Kenyans are threatened by starvation in the region's worst drought in 60 years.

. . .

Mr Munyes, who is the labour minister in Kenya's coalition government, said the death toll would have been higher if the Red Cross was not distributing aid in Turkana.

USA Politics, Economy, Major Events
U.S. relaxes limits on Somalia aid as famine looms

By Andrew Quinn
The United States is working to get more relief into famine-ravaged southern Somalia and is reassuring aid agencies they will not be penalized for programs in regions controlled by al Shabaab rebels, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

. . .

The United States has placed al Shabaab on its official list of foreign terrorist organizations, a designation which forbids U.S. groups from providing "material support" to the group that controls large parts of the Horn of Africa nation.

The designation has complicated international aid efforts for Somalia, where a famine is spreading and some 3.7 million people are in urgent need of assistance in southern regions, many of them in areas controlled by al Shabaab.

Concerns over possible diversion of relief supplies to al Shabaab prompted a number of international aid organizations to suspend programs in southern Somalia in January 2010 and continue to constrain aid work, the U.S. officials said.

US Woman Treks Across Africa for Clean Water

By Faiza Elmasry
. . .

Amy Russell hopes her 12,000-kilometer, two-year long trek across Africa will raise money for and awareness of the need for clean water.

. . .

"When I studied poverty a little more, I realized that clean water is just at the base and the root of all that," she says. "You can’t really have the rest of the development process of sanitation, education, all those types of things without having the basic necessity of clean water.”

That’s how the idea of walking across Africa was born. Russell plans to start in January, accompanied by volunteers from the U.S. and the African countries she’s walking through. The team hopes to walk for about eight hours a day to raise $8 million  for wells, filtration systems and other water-related projects in underdeveloped countries.

. . .

Elisa Van Dyke  is also impressed by Amy's mission. It's something Van Dyke is very familiar with. She's helped organize annual water walks for Healing Hands International in Nashville, Tennessee, for the past five years.

. . .

“We have drilled close to 500 clean water wells throughout Africa and a few in Central America," she says. "So when we are able to put a well in a community that’s just right outside their homes or right there in the middle of their village, girls don’t have to spend a lot of their day collecting water. It can become a brief morning task or an afternoon task and then they can go on to school.”

Would Al Shabab agree to humanitarian corridors in Somalia?

By Howard LaFranchi
With an estimated 30,000 children already dead and as many as 2 million Somalis in southern Somalia under threat of starvation, Rep. Christopher Smith (R) of New Jersey said Friday that the Obama administration should press the international community on opening humanitarian corridors.

The proposal would involve negotiating with the Islamist extremist organization Al Shabab, however, since the Al Qaeda-linked group controls much of the areas the United Nations says are suffering from famine.

. . .

Al Shabab has banned all but the International Committee of the Red Cross from providing food and other humanitarian aid in areas it controls, labeling other agencies and nongovernmental organizations as undesirable Western influences.

. . .

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Friday that Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, will tour refugee camps in the Horn of Africa this weekend to assess needs and determine what kind of aid the US should provide. Refugee camps have mushroomed in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia as hundreds of thousands of Somalis have fled their homes in search of food and water.

Environment and Greening
Experts: La Niña, Climate Change Impact East African Drought

By Steve Baragona
. . .

La Niña and the related phenomenon called El Niño are natural cycles that happen every 3 to 5 years or so. Man-made contributions to global warming - auto and industrial greenhouse-gas emissions, for example -- are a concern, too. But climate scientist Simon Mason at Columbia University's International Research Institute for Climate and Society says the human factor in the Horn’s climate woes is less clear.

. . .

But experts say in terms of food production, it does not make that much difference whether it gets wetter or drier because it is sure to get hotter. They may not be sure about rainfall, but they are confident temperatures in East Africa will continue to go up.

. . .

Ringler notes that much of the land in drought-stricken East Africa is not very productive in the best of times. And, she adds, "it will not get any better. Even if we have a bit more rainfall, the general potential for food production in the region is not expected to improve dramatically in the region."

Furthermore, when the rain falls is in some ways as important as how much. Climate change tends to promote more heavy downpours with longer dry stretches in between. That is not good for raising crops, either, she says.

What Can the Horn of Africa Do in the Face of Severe Droughts?

By Vinod Thomas
The Horn of Africa is facing a humanitarian catastrophe from the worst drought in 60 years. The United Nations estimates that more than 11 million people need urgent assistance to stay alive. International donors, including the World Bank with its recent pledge of $500 million, are trying to help the people suffering from the food shortage and loss of their crops and livestock.

The region has faced droughts every few years, and each time, they have set back progress on reducing poverty, disrupted food production systems, and jeopardized the lives of millions of people. The sharp rise in food prices this year makes the situation worse. The severity of the drought and its ominous link to climate change this time around deepen the concern over the current devastation.

Immediate relief and recovery is of course the urgent priority in a calamity. But the recurrent nature of the crisis especially in the face of climate change also calls attention to building resilience to cope -- in two ways. Supporting the development of reliable early warning systems and of flexible social safety nets to protect the most vulnerable groups is one. Strengthening agricultural and agribusiness systems by improving farmer's access to drought resistant varieties of crops, improved rain water harvesting technologies and information from weather forecasting systems while continuing to increase investment in irrigation development is the other.

. . .

Given the unfortunate recurrence of droughts in the Horn of Africa, there is urgency in investing and maintaining drought resilient agriculture and agribusiness. Such investments can target drought-resistant crops, catalyze the use of rain water harvesting and water conserving technologies, and improve irrigation systems. To strengthen further the resilience and preparedness of the region to droughts, social safety nets should factor the cyclical nature of natural disasters and aim to protect the poorest and most vulnerable. Social safety nets must have flexibility to change, refocus and adapt to evolving country contexts and needs.

Climate change is cause of Ethiopian drought

By Alastair Good
The United Nations (UN) humanitarian relief coordinator, Valerie Amos says that the world “must take the impact of climate change more seriously”.

 During a tour of the Somali Regional State, Valerie Amos said: “Everything I've heard has said that we used to have drought every ten years, then it became every five years and now it's every two years. And it you don't have the rains at the beginning of the year or towards the end of one year then you are going to have a problem into the next year."

. . .

 Rainfall in the area gave some relief in May but drought conditions are expected to return before the rainy season begins in October.

Cultural
Somali Women Fleeing Famine Preyed On By Rapists

By (AP via NPR)
. . .

Mohamud and eight other women and girls share their rickety shelter on the outskirts of Dadaab, a camp designed for 90,000 people which now houses around 440,000 refugees. Almost all are from war-ravaged Somalia. Some have been here for more than 20 years, when the country first collapsed into anarchy. But now more than 1,000 are arriving daily, fleeing fighting or hunger.

. . .

To help ease the overcrowding, international donors including the U.S. and European Union spent $16 million building the Ifo 2 extension, which could house 40,000 people. But it is still unclear when or if the Kenyan government will open it.

Research shows that women are often attacked when they leave their families to go to the bathroom or gather firewood. When Mohamud's three young daughters need to relieve themselves, she insists on going with them, and takes the only torch the nine women share between them. She has no shoes, so she walks barefoot over the thorny ground.

. . .

Kenyan officials have said that they consider the influx of Somalis a security risk because part of the country is held by al-Qaida linked rebels. They also fear that if they provide the schools and medical care lacking in Somalia, families will simply move to Kenya to get better services. The Kenyans want aid agencies to deliver food in Somalia instead but charities face attack by bandits and harassment by Kenyan officials at the border.

. . .

In the meantime, the refugees keep coming as the hunger crisis worsens but there is nowhere for them to go. The camps are full to bursting, and medical staff are setting up tents to treat new arrivals. Women and their children are being forced farther out, away from services and security. Aid agencies are appealing for more donations, unable to use the facilities they built. And Mohamud, whose door is only a blanket draped on a stick, keeps her daughters close and dreads each sunset.

Drought and displacement in Somalia: Fleeing from dust and starvation

By Greg Beals
Abdulahi Haji Hassan gazes at the exhausted and confused faces of his family and contemplates the toll that drought and famine has taken on their lives. His two-year-old son, Madey, leans listlessly against his mother's breast.

Fama, Abdulahi's four-year-old daughter, is covered in dust from the 27-day trek through the howling desert from their home near Baidoa in southern Somalia to the Kenyan border. Her tears form pathways along her dust-covered face. His wife Haway's lips tighten at the thought that it could be years before she sees home. But Abdulahi has made a life-changing calculation. "My home is nothing but dust and starvation," he says. "I cannot go back there."

Walking towards asylum was not a matter of choice. The family livelihood depended on herding animals. Abdulahi's 70 goats and 30 cows fell ill and died one-by-one as the worst drought in memory denied the animals water and feed. The livestock were in many ways considered to be part of his extended family and their loss was catastrophic.

. . .

Members of the local community, many of whom have lived in Dadaab for nearly 20 years, have also sought to help. "When we saw the refugees arriving, members of the religious and youth community inside the camps decided that they needed to help," says 38-year-old refugee, Mahat Ahmed. "We told people, if you have two shirts, give one. If you have two pairs of shoes give one pair."

. . .

These refugee humanitarians see their effort not as a single act, but as a signal for all who want to help. "It is a matter of faith," says refugee Barre Osman, 24, who distributes milk and biscuits. "Human hearts are connected and our hearts are as one. We all come from Adam and Eve and we are all brothers and sisters."

Horn of Africa drought: Survival of the fittest

By Anne Mawathe
. . .

The one day old was born under an acacia tree 80km (50 miles) north of Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, where thousands of Somalis are heading every day after arduous journeys.

. . .

"There was drought; We have been walking for 22 days drinking only water," Mrs Haji says.

"Since I delivered, I haven't eaten a thing.

"I now need food, life, water and shelter - everything that a human being needs."
. . .

They [al-Shabab militiamen] stopped us on the way and told us to turn back. They said it was better to die in our motherland.”

. . .

"It's ironic. There is relative peace in Somalia where I live. But we are still fleeing."

ond_wordcloud_2011-08-06

CLICK THE BELOW LINK TO MAKE A DONATION

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, http://www.oxfam.org/... class="donate-link" target="_blank">click this link and scroll down a bit to find your country.  If not listed, please Google Oxfam in your country.

Schedule of Daily Kos Diaries - August 6th and August 7th

  • Saturday, August 6th - PST

6-10: Una Spencer: 48forEastAfrica: A Strident Appeal
10-12: rb137: 48forEastAfrica: Millions and Counting
12-3: wader: 48 for East Africa: Let's Change This News
3-6: FishOutofWater
6-9: A Siegel
9-12: Oke
Overnight: boatsie

  • Sunday, August 7th - PST

6-8: blue jersey mom
8-10: Daisy Carlson (CoolHIVE.org)
10-12: 350.org
12-2: Ellinorianne
2-4: Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse
4-6: JekyllnHyde
6-9: jlms qkw
9-12: Laura Heaton (Enough Project)
Overnight: Chacounne

Participant Actions: (to be updated throughout the weekend)

Oxfam International: 48 Hours of Blogging For East Africa
TckTckTck joins activists and bloggers in weekend fundraiser for African food crisis
WiserEarth Supports #48forEastAfrica: A Weekend of Action

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to East Africa Food Crisis: 48 Hours of Action on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 11:22 AM PDT.

Also republished by J Town and ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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