Across numerous countries over the East and South Africa, extreme weather conditions have caused severe drought placing the regions at high risk of a food and water crisis.

The situation in countries such as Botswana and Somalia has reached alarming levels, with malnutrition and dehydration concerns leaving these countries with a dire need of international assistance.

Unfavourable dry seasons have been caused by a lack of rainfall due to the effects of El Nino, a weather phenomenon that causes both drought and flooding in many parts of the world. Occurring every four years, the effects of global warming have experts warning this phase of El Nino could have some of the most disastrous impacts yet, with South Africa experiencing its lowest rainfall on record in 2015.

While the drought continues to threaten the agricultural security of over 15 countries, international aid and awareness of the crisis are startlingly low. Global conflicts and crisis in other parts of the world such as Syria are currently holding a significant amount of the world’s attention, and stretching thin the resources of international humanitarian organisations who are already entrenched in these conflicts.

As Oxfam director, Jane Cocking summarises, the dire nature of those crisis’s means ‘we cannot afford to allow other large-scale emergencies to develop elsewhere’.

Africa is no stranger to drought conditions, with Eastern parts of the region being hit by a severe drought as recently as 2011. The impact caused major food and water shortage, leading to famine, malnutrition and dehydrations in many areas that also resulted in conflict and the deaths of up to 260,000 people.

It is evident the current situation in many countries in Africa can be described as on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. Crop failures in South Africa and food shortages in Kenya have already arisen fears a national emergency.

Ethiopian agricultural minister Mr Mitiku Kassa spoke out on the situation stating:

“In 2016, as humanitarian needs spike, international support at least in the short term, must tilt towards more humanitarian assistance. This is critical, to ensure that Ethiopia’s development gains of the past decade are preserved ”

In countries such as Somalia, already in a humanitarian crisis due to conflict and tensions within the region; the drought only serves to worsen living situations for residents. Many who endure the fighting are ultimately forced to leave their homes for neighbouring countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya.

The journey to these countries is hugely strenuous and demanding, with those who reach refugees camps arrive starved, dehydrated and often close to death.

The UHCR is currently seeking $144,954,431 (4) from international funds to stem this fast-growing crisis, however with many countries tied up and focusing on their domestic situations this aid is difficult to accumulate.

With the crisis growing in severity, millions of lives depend on the international community’s growing aware before the catastrophe.

– Anusha Muller, Correspondent (Our World)

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