Oxfam is now warning the drought in East Africa, where nearly 11 million people are already affected by food shortages, is threatening to become a humanitarian “catastrophe”.
Issuing a “desperate” appeal for the international community to meet a request from the United Nations for about £1.5bn of aid, the charity also said the worst drought in living memory demonstrated why the world must act to reduce global warming.
It pointed to several scientific studies which found evidence that climate change was likely driving up temperatures and making the situation significantly worse.
“Nearly 11 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are dangerously hungry and in need of humanitarian assistance,” Oxfam said in a briefing.
“There is mounting evidence that climate change is likely to be contributing to higher temperatures in the region, and that increased temperatures are exacerbating the impacts of drought,” Oxfam said.
“Temperatures have been consistently higher in East Africa in recent years, part of a trend seen in Africa and around the world.
“Higher temperatures result in greater evaporation, meaning soil moisture is reduced, reinforcing drier conditions and intensifying the impacts of failed rains. Crops and pasture have less water, and the chance of failed harvests or lack of feed for livestock increases.
“In pastoral regions like northern Somalia, higher temperatures over the past six months have turned very low rainfall last year into a terrible loss of soil moisture – helping to desiccate all the available fodder for many of Somalia’s pastoralists.”
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