The horn is located on the edge of starvation

Political instability, war and drought have brought the situation of food production in the region of the horn of Africa to the limit. Tens of millions of people in East Africa already face serious shortages of food. And organizations to provide humanitarian aid, and authorities are warning that in the coming months, the region expects a large-scale famine. The UN declared the famine in war-ravaged southern Sudan. Somalia and Yemen — both countries civil war is raging — is also on the verge of starvation.

Although with food shortages in this part of the world common, the official announcement of hunger — a rare thing. The technical definition of famine requires that one out of five households in a particular area have been facing extreme shortages in food to 30% of the population ate defective, and that the rate of death exceeded 2 persons on 10 thousand population per day.

The main reason for the shortages of food became the military and civil conflicts, and drought have worsened the problem.

In 2016, many parts of the horn of Africa experienced two poor rainy season in a row. For example, a large part of southern Sudan received less than 40% of the usual amount of rainfall from October to December. Some agricultural regions have experienced the driest calendar year since 1985. Meteorologists are predicting low rainfall in the next rainy season in March — may. Farmers and herdsmen in the region is likely to face crop failure and shortage of feed for livestock.

The map describes the scale of the 12-week drought that ended February 15, 2017. Region with the highest degree of evaporative stress are shown in brown. The evaporative stress index — indicator based on observations of surface temperature and leaf area index, which captures the MODIS on the satellites Terra and Aqua and the radiometer on the satellite “Suomi”.


Region with the highest degree of evaporative stress are shown in brown.

Thanks to the combination of data made possible measurement of evapotranspiration — volume of water that evaporates from the surface of the earth and leaves of plants. Measurement of evapotranspiration is useful as an extremely low evapotranspiration — an early indicator that the plants are faced with stress, even if the leaves are not withered and become brown.

The current drought is associated with the weak phenomenon La Nina, which formed in the Pacific ocean in 2016. La niña changes the ocean temperature and air pressure over the Pacific ocean, and its influence is felt around the world. One of the consequences — decrease in precipitation in East Africa and increase precipitation in Malaysia.

In February 2017, it was announced the reduction of yield in North-East Ethiopia, South-East Somalia and South-Eastern Kenya. Destruction of crops was especially severe in southern Somalia, where the basic “grass” regions, the harvest was 60% below normal. In politically stable countries, such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, drought checked the food system to the test, but before hunger still not reached.

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