The Specter of Ravishing Drought And Its Forgotten Victims

Drought, based on recorded history, has always been present someplace on this planet traversing the cosmos.  In early times people shifted geographical locations to more fertile lands.

As the earth’s population grew, migration became more of a problem.  A large body of people is difficult to relocate to fertile lands.  Natural resources become rapidly depleted.

What happens in these drought-stricken regions is that the effect on the ecosystem can be severe.  Plants, animals and people perish.

Agricultural pursuits cease.  The water sources become more polluted.  Famine becomes the daily companion.

Wildfires are more frequent.  Dust storms become the harbinger of new miseries and sorrows. 

A newly-arrived elderly refugee is assisted past a cloud of dust at the Dagahaley refugee camp, the world's largest refugee complex in Dadaab, northern Kenya. Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

People, especially children, suffer the effects of malnutrition and disease.  As bad as these horrors may be, they are insignificant when war is introduced into the equation as various factions seek territorial claims.

These factions gain control of the water supply and food.  Distribution of these two priceless commodities becomes a source of conflict in which thousands die for lack of basic essentials as the warring factions play their endless games of manipulation and control of “their” territory.

In East Africa drought, famine and war have affected millions of people, especially women and children.  These are the forgotten victims of the Specter which rides across their daily reality.

A Somali woman hands her malnourished child to a Ugandan medical officer of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) for medical treatment, in Mogadishu, Somalia. Stuart Price/AU-UN IST/Reuters

For us in the West, East Africa is over there.  It is “those people” who are journeying to oblivion as we watch our sporting events, explore our entertainment venues and dine on our abundance of food and indulge our bodies with clean water.

The numbers are staggering:  11.5 million people are in desperate need of assistance in the Horn of Africa.  78,000 refugees from Somali have taken safe haven in Kenya and Ethiopia. 30% of the population is malnourished.  Mothers are so malnourished that they have nothing left to breastfeed their babies.

Of course in Somali humanitarian aid has run into political entanglements, be it the anti-terror laws of the West or the warlords who would prefer their people to starve before accepting aid from the West.  Then there are those factions who deny aid to those not of their tribe or political affiliation. Based on how the West has treated these regions of Africa in the decades of the past, one can understand the anti-West viewpoints.

Horn of Africa CIA

However, people are suffering and dying each day from the lack of food and water. It would seem that the plight of humans struggling to survive the daily onslaughts of nature and man would rise above politics and religion.

Like it or not, in the final analysis we all are brothers and sisters sharing the same earth.  The death of a child is a loss to the whole human race, regardless of their country of origin or religious affiliation.

In 2011 as the earth spins in infinite space the problems on its surface seem to be a rehash of the old ways of thinking and doing.  A new paradigm is needed where people of the earth are placed first on the world agenda. Other artificial concerns take a secondary place to the needs of men, women and children as they suffer the vicissitudes of cruel Fate.

If you can help, click on the CNN link below.  The link lists a number of agencies which are helping in East Africa.

G. D. Williams       © 2011


The Christian Science Monitor

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