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On air 1100GMT: Africa's drought - why is it still happening?

Gabriela Pomeroy | 09:30 UK time, Friday, 8 July 2011

This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 8 July, 2011. Listen to the programme.



The Times Newspaper's Africa correspondent Jonathan Clayton has written a controversial column accusing aid agencies of "crying wolf" and hyping up the drought in East Africa.

As the BBC has been reporting, aid agencies say the Horn of Africa is having its worst drought for 60 years. The BBC's Ben Brown sent this report from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.

But Jonathan Clayton is sceptical:

"In 22 years of working in Africa, I can barely remember a summer when there was not an emergency appeal for the Horn. The aid industry has grown immensely in the past two decades - a lot of jobs depend on rattling the can."

"This month we have been told that East Africa, including Kenya and Uganda, where virtually anything grows and banana trees line the roads, is suffering the worst drought for 60 years. But let's be sceptical.... what is happening in the Horn has not yet met the criteria [to be defined as famine] and probably never will."

 "And where does this "worst drought for 60 years" come from? ... The numbers and claims climb quickly higher. Christian Aid claimed that ten million people were "at risk" of starvation. Oxfam, never to be outdone, said that it needed £50 million to help 12 million people overcome "massive" food shortages."

Clayton writes that the real reason for famine in Africa is war - NOT drought, and there's not much aid agencies can do about it.

"By hyping up a localised "drought" and playing down the real causes of the turmoil in Eastern Africa, the aid agencies are crying wolf. What happens when there's a real emergency? Will we believe them?"

What do you think ? Will you believe the aid agencies next time they come up with some drastic statistics ? Post your comments here.


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