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Posted Fri Sep 25 2009: from The Economist:
A catastrophe is looming
THIS year's drought is the worst in east Africa since 2000, and possibly since 1991. Famine stalks the land. The failure of rains in parts of Ethiopia may increase the number needing food handouts by 5m, in addition to the 8m already getting them, in a population of 80m... In Mwingi district, in Kenya's Kamba region, the crops have totally failed. Villagers are surviving on monthly government handouts of maize-meal, rice and a little cooking oil. Worse than the hunger, say local leaders, is the thirst. People are digging wells by hand, but they hit rock... Meteorologists reckon the rains due in October and November will be heavier than usual. That would be good, if the east African authorities were prepared. But they are not. Mud slides and floods are likely, with streams and rivers carrying off the topsoil. Malaria and cholera may increase. Surviving cattle, weakened by drought, will drown or die of cold.
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