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Published:April 26th, 2006 05:52 EST
Horn of Africa  Several Years of Successive Rainfall Failures

Horn of Africa Several Years of Successive Rainfall Failures

By SOP newswire

The top United Nations relief official for Horn of Africa was arriving in Eritrea tonight at the start of a week-long mission to a region where recurrent drought and food insecurity are threatening the lives of 11 million people.

Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa Kjell Magne Bondevik will also visit Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

Several years of successive rainfall failures and the concomitant rapid erosion of assets and livelihoods have left the people in parts of the five countries to suffer from water shortages and declining access to food, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The predominately pastoral and agro-pastoral communities are being forced to travel vast distances to find grazing for their animals. Meanwhile, reduced agricultural production has led to a dramatic increase in the price of food commodities, particularly of cereals. Without assistance, many people face malnutrition, significantly increased risk of disease, loss of livelihoods and even death.

As part of the response to the situation, Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed former Norwegian Prime Minister Bondevik as Special Humanitarian Envoy in February. The UN has also launched a $426-million appeal for the Horn of Africa to support the urgent needs of the affected people.

Source: The UN