Africa is generally known as a continent stricken by a poor economical climate despite being rich with natural resources. Food shortages occur on a regular basis and many people rely on the help offered by the United Nations, multi-nationals, and NGOs.
Somalia is one of the countries in Africa severely affected by circumstance. Drought is a harsh reality and many people, including children, die of either a complete lack of water or a lack of clean water.
The consecutive droughts has caused major displacement of people, with Somali people even crossing the border into Kenya, seeking help, food, water and shelter.
Some link the drought in Somalia to climate change along with poor land management.
Aid supplies are shipped in, but due to ongoing conflicts in areas, and corruption within the local powers that be, many villagers do not have access to these supplies. The United Nations said that there are still not enough food and clean water supplies to save all the lives at risk.
It has been labelled as a ‘humanitarian crises’ and two provinces in Somalia, lower Shabelle and southern Bakool, was declared as suffering harsh famine situations.
Malnutrition in Somalia is of the highest in the entire world, with malnutrition a high of 50% in the southern parts of the country. It was established that 3.7 million people were in crises, with over 2.8 million of these people situated in the southern parts of the country.
Children under five suffer the most, with 6 in 10 000 children dying each day in some regions. And this is only the deaths that are reported. Thousands of adults and children have died from malnutrition and other related illnesses.
United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden is quoted as saying that “more than ever, Somali people need and deserve our full attention. At this time of crisis, we must make exceptional efforts to support Somalis wherever they are in need and expect that all parties will do the same.”
He estimated that to supply in all the needs of Somalia, an estimated $300 million was needed.
Thanks to the unstable political climate, the situation has only worsened. Piracy on the coasts of Somalia has posed a real danger and as of March 2011, more than 50 000 people have been displaced due to droughts. Internationally, this displacement is an estimated 1.5 million Somali people.
With conditions not getting any better, all the troubles, be it political or environmental, is putting people in Somalia through hell. Kenya also offers shelter to Somalis, but surrounding countries can only do so much.
As drought continues, many will suffer. Illnesses and subsequent death from these illnesses is an everyday occurrence.
This story of a starving nation is unfortnately not uncommon. A whole history along with other factors are at play here and too often, the millions and millions of dollars from other countries’ tax dollars do not make the impact that was intended.
After the earthquake in Haiti is a prime example of millions that poured into the country, yet barely reached even a small portion of the Haitians that lacked clean water, food and safe shelter.
Somalia it appears, dare it be said, is even in a worse situation. In a time like this where generous people want to help, but don’t know how, giving money to any sort of promising aid organization is the only way they know how. And yet, time and again- what real progress has been made?
For any country to thrive, their must be a system of order within the people, where the existing natural resources are used in a way where at least each person and family have a basic quality of life, even if the economic climate is sparse to non-existent.
It is condescending and hypocritical to hope that the Somalians could learn to maximize and cultivate natural resources within their communities when many so-called “first world” nation’s people don’t follow the same advice or even have the same skill set. Despite fighting, scarcity and uncertainty in Somalia, one relationship that remains true is between the actions between humans and their direct stewardship of the land. Even Somalia has the opportunity to set the standard for the rest of the world. -ANNABEL SCHOEMAN