Thursday, March 09, 2006

When the rains don’t come, the economics of famine slaughter

The seasonal rains in East Africa have once again failed leaving tens of millions at risk of famine. Thos facing the greatest danger are pastoralist farmers who live off herds which are being decimated by the drought. Those animals that do survive are of less and less value, reuters reports that the price of an adult cow has fallen from 7,000 Kenya shillings (US $96) to 800 shillings ($11). Camels fetch less than 5,000 shillings ($68), down from 20,000 shillings ($274).
As a result the pastoral communities can not afford to buy maize, of which there has recently been a very successful harvest, and so they face starvation.

The governments of most of the countries are characterized as corrupt and undemocratic and have abdicated responsibility for these largely lobby-less pastoralist communities to international aid organisations. The necessary reform to protect the vulnerable is very slow in coming.

- Kenya which has the largest and most developed economy in the region has the largest pastoralist community and is therefore most at risk. These aid agencies work there.
- Somalia was a violent anarchic state for 13 years up until 2004, its newly formed central government is in no position to meet its responsibilities. Most of it population is pastoralist.
It already had 1.3 million people in dire need of food aid before the rains failed.
These aid agencies work there.
- Eritrea led by dictator is Isaias Afwerki is more concerned with threatening its neighbours, relations with which are virtually all strained, than reforming. These aid agencies work there.
- Ethiopia has the largest livestock population in Africa but its farmers are not allowed to settle in urban areas or open bank accounts. These aid agencies work there.
- Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, these aid agencies work there.

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