Impending Threat of Drought and Starvation in Africa Sparks UN Conversation

As the wet season continues throughout the world, disproportionately low rainfall within the region of the Horn of Africa has left millions of people at risk of starvation due to crop failure and inhospitable environments for livestock and people. The Horn of Africa is in the eastern peninsula, separated from the Arabian peninsula by the Gulf of Aden. Three countries are found within this region: Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya, all politically and structurally incapable of facing the imminent issue of droughts and starvation. This past Tuesday, the United Nations announced its concern about the issue, fearing millions could be harmed. As reported by Al Jazeera, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) stated: “The number of hungry people due to drought could spiral from the currently estimated 14 million to 20 million through 2022.” 

This is not the first occurrence of famine within Africa due to drought, particularly in the Horn of Africa. In 2017, an estimated six million Somalians were exposed to food shortages and unfit water sources, causing highly damaging starvation, malnutrition, and death. Throughout the eastern regions of Africa, famine and water-born illness have continuously been a problem, further exacerbated by climate change. Rising global temperatures, while seemingly slights, cause great disturbances throughout the Earth’s climate systems and environments. Scientists have measured the exponential rise in climate disasters, including droughts, in congruence with the rising temperatures due to emission pollution. And while countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya are not major contributors to the climate crisis, they are the ones suffering from its repercussions. 

The UN further published statements about the current condition of the Horn of Africa, already reporting cases of starvation. They estimate that 7.2 million Ethiopians are already experiencing food insecurity, with similar conditions found for millions in Somalia and Kenya. As we are only about one month into the wet season for eastern Africa, the current signs of famine are only going to progressively worsen without international aid. While recognition from the United Nations as a serious issue is promising, the UN has a history of providing assistance in instances of drought and famine, and systemic global change must occur when addressing climate change.

Industrialized countries such as the United States have profited from the destruction of our environment, causing further disasters, including increasingly destructive droughts. Millions of Africans are currently starving due to these increased conditions, and millions more are to be affected if drastic measures are not taken. While changes to climate policy may not directly aid those experiencing famine today or cause the current climate to shift automatically, they are necessary to protect future victims of drought and other disasters. If the starvation and the deaths of countless individuals cannot inspire change, I question what else will.