Our Perspective

Drought is Life or Death Issue in Horn Of Africa

13 Jul 2011

image An estimated 3,000 people a day are arriving in Kenya and Ethiopia from Somalia seeking help. Photo: UN Photo

According to the latest reports by the World Food Programme, some 10 million people are affected by the Horn of Africa's worst drought in 60 years.  An estimated 3,000 people a day are arriving in Kenya and Ethiopia from Somalia seeking help.  People are arriving in a very weak condition and it is very distressing to hear of the fatalities this severe hardship is causing.   Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, has just been to Mogadishu and also to the refugee camp at Dollo in Ethiopia – both places where drought victims are heading.  UNHCR chief, Antonio Guterres, has also been to the Somali refugee camps and called for urgent help for the drought victims. My overwhelming concern right now is that people are dying because of the drought, particularly those who must leave their land and their homes to walk long distances, in a weakened condition, to try to find food and water.  Many Somalis are crossing borders to do that.  Sheer survival is a battle for many families right now. Looking ahead, more support is needed to develop drought-resistant agriculture and small holder farming in the areas affected.  As there has been insufficient support for this  Read More

A new environment for adapting to climate change

03 Jun 2011

A local farmer harvests sorghum in the Sudan A local farmer harvests sorghum in the Sudan. Photo: UN Photo/Fred Noy

Climate change disproportionately affects the most vulnerable communities in the world. The impacts of extreme weather events and natural disasters hurt poor countries the most where lack of resources and weaker infrastructures leave people less equipped to respond and protect themselves. Read UNDP Chief Helen Clark's remarks on adaptation at the United Nations 2010 Climate Change Conference in Cancun. Even gradual changes can be a huge additional burden on these countries, increasing the difficulties people face to simply secure food, water and a basic livelihood. Niger is one such country struggling to adapt to climate change. With 80 percent  of its territory covered by the Sahara desert and the semi-arid Sahel zone, Niger has been hard hit by frequent droughts with a dry season that lasts for 9 months of the year, putting rural livelihoods at severe risk.  Three years ago UNDP began supporting Niger, along with 19 other African countries, to develop strategies to help prevent some of the worst impacts of a changing climate. The US$92.1 million Africa Adaptation Programme, funded by the Government of Japan, aims to support countries like Niger create a stronger environment to prepare for, and adapt to, climate change. By sharing knowledge and identifying  Read More

Copenhagen: the African dimension | Tegegnework Gettu

05 Dec 2009

image Africa has contributed only 3.8% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo: UNDP Zambia)

Over the past year, the countries of Africa have intensified their efforts to build a coalition on climate change. Across the continent, governments and communities have been working to ensure that their concerns and expectations are heard at this month's Copenhagen climate negotiations. Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change. In our lifetimes, climate shifts will likely inflict severe damage to human welfare in a continent already battling with entrenched poverty, degraded ecosystems and civil strife. More than 40% of the continent's inhabitants live in extreme poverty and 70% of that number are located in rural areas, depending largely on agriculture for their livelihoods. Climate change will affect farmers from the Sahel to the highlands of Lesotho. Rising temperatures could lead to new epidemics of mosquito-borne diseases in countries such as Kenya and Uganda. Storms and floods are likely to intensify, wiping out vital infrastructure and housing in Madagascar, Mozambique and many other coastal areas. Any concerted effort to tackle climate change in Africa must focus primarily on poverty reduction and the UN's millennium development goals (MDGs), the internationally agreed effort to halve extreme poverty and hunger and reduce major diseases by 2015. Any attempt to "seal the deal" – as  Read More

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