Some months ago I wrote this blog post expressing concern that Africa may not be doing enough in preparation for the world's changing climate. Events have come to light which vindicate those like me who have been crying out for a long time about the need for us to take heed of what the climate change scientists have been saying for years. Millions of people across East Africa are already facing starvation and dire poverty as rising food prices and a drought leave them without food.
Oxfam are warning that aid is needed urgently across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, where many people who rely on imported food have seen prices go up by as much as 500 per cent.
Lindsey Hilsum Channel 4 News's International Editor was based in Kenya between 1982 and 1989. She wrote this report on returning to parts of Northern Kenya recently, after 20 years.
Among other things, she writes:
"It’s a world away from Nairobi, where Kenyan MPs – who are, incidentally, paid more than their British counterparts – drive around in fancy cars and plot for the next election."
"Climate change scientists say northern Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia can expect more extreme weather events like this. Later this month heavy rains associated with El Nino are expected, but they may not improve the pasture so much as cause erosion by flooding. The aid agencies call this a “climate and poverty hotspot”, a desperate conjunction of misfortune. The people here need money to build dams to conserve water when the rains come. They need new laws on land tenure to minimise the risk of conflict between different groups and tribes over scarce resources. They need alternative employment opportunities, or they’ll end up leaving pastoralism, which remains the best way of using this arid land, and add to Kenya’s growing population of unemployed slum-dwellers."
"Aid agencies, both foreign and national, can help alleviate the worst of the suffering but in the end a government is responsible for the welfare of its people."
"As we drove south I thought how China has lifted 400m people out of poverty in the last 30 years. That’s the population equivalent of 10 Kenyas. What has the Kenyan government done in that time? It hasn’t even built a decent road from Baragoi to Maralal."
This doctor's blog from Kenya is worth reading..