Famine & Drought 101


As I’m sure you’re aware, the Horn of Africa is experiencing the worst drought in over 60 years, which is a main factor leading to the current famine crisis. Famine was first declared in Somalia earlier this summer by the UN and has affected 13.3 million people so far in the Horn of Africa. Many may be wonder what constitutes an actual famine and how they’re directly linked to drought. Read on to learn more about the basics:

DROUGHT, noun: A long period of time with unusually dry weather and lack of rain in a specific region.

Droughts cause:

  • Significant water shortage
  • Crop damage
  • Food shortages
  • Vulnerability to death caused by violence, excessive heat and food shortage
  • Increased food prices
  • Unemployment
  • Migration
  • Stress and conflict

FAMINE, noun: a widespread, extreme scarcity of food. Famine means people are starving on a huge scale.

Famine often follows drought because of the significant effects drought has on a region.

  • Drought causes a lack of water—a necessity for cooking meals.
  • Less food and water for livestock leads to a decline in wildlife habitat.
  • Livestock mortality causes a decrease in available food.

The United Nations declares a famine when:

  • Malnutrition rate exceeds 30 percent
  •  More than two people per 10,000 die each day
  • The majority of the population lacks access to food

Other characteristics of Famine include:

  • Pandemic illness           
  • Displacement
  • Civil strife
  • Loss of belongings and source of income

Meteorologists don’t expect rain in the region until early 2012. This year, while participating in the 30 Hour Famine, you can designate your funds to the Horn of Africa helping those in crisis right now. Your  funds will help provide emergency food, access to safe water and housing for refugees in the Horn.