Due to the warming of the Pacific Ocean or El Nino, 11 million children in East and South Africa are reportedly at risk of disease, water shortages, and hunger, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says. However, even in the face of grim projections, Ethiopia went on record to reject reports that the impending drought will throw the East African nation back to the famine levels of 1984, reports BBC.
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According to UNICEF, El Nino strengthening in the coming months doesn’t bode well for the region. “The weather phenomenon, among the strongest on record, is likely to cause more floods and droughts, fuel Pacific typhoons and cyclones and affect more areas if it continues strengthening as forecast over the coming months,” UNICEF said.
The specific countries that are threatened include Ethiopia, Somalia, South Africa, Kenya, and Somalia.
While Ethiopia reportedly faces its worst drought in 30 years, “particularly harsh” floods are projected in Somalia. In Kenya, an unfortunate medley of mudslides, landslides, and floods are expected, with hikes in disease expected to occur due to the El Nino rains.
Drought is already affecting Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
UNICEF added, “In Malawi, where almost half the children are already undernourished, UNICEF fears the worst drought in almost a decade could cause a further increase in severe acute malnutrition.”
Livestock in South Africa are dying due to lack of water, and UNICEF says 1.5 million will be in need of food from January to March in Zimbabwe.
Still, Ethiopia made sure to set the record straight, countering Western media’s reports that the drought will transport Ethiopians to the famine of 1984, spurring the now-infamous Live Aid Africa Charity event.
In addition to stating that they have food surpluses for its citizens, the Ethiopian Embassy said, “The government is working hard to ensure that no-one dies from lack of food in this El Nino year and, contrary to some Western news reports, there will not be famine of any sort, let alone anything remotely like the magnitude of that of 1984.”