The horn of hunger

From time immemorial, the need to eat and eat well fed has well and truly emerged as one of man`s most primal needs which is only met when there is enough good food within reach to meet dietary requirements.

However, it has been part of man`s experience that the satisfaction of this need is not always a smooth and seamless sail given a confluence of many factors which somehow contrive to ensure that hunger remains part of that experience.

For people for who breathe hunger every day, what can really be said about the quality of their lives beyond the fact that it takes daily hits? How can their reality be fully and forcefully described so as to give some voice to the pain hunger digs within them? For these people whose vision has become blurred by staring for so long at the bottom of empty bowls, what ballad can really be sung at the banquet of bare bones they have been invited to?

It has become clear for all to see that Russia`s costly folly in Ukraine is reverberating far beyond the borders of the heroic Eastern European country which has taken a courageous last stand against a shameless dictatorship. Many people around the world who were roasting in the fire of hunger for long must now lament the coming of the harmattan season blown their way by the war in Ukraine among other factors. The projections are as dire as they come.

According to the United Nations, twenty million people could starve this year after delayed rains worsened already brutal droughts in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

The droughts in the Horn of Africa which has destroyed crops and livestock forcing many people to leave their homes in search of food and water has left the region on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Amidst nature`s fury, the situation of many people caught in the clutches of hunger is simply heartbreaking. According to the World Food Programme, if current conditions do not abate, six million Somalis, or 40 percent of the population, would be facing extreme levels of food insecurity and there would be a very real risk of famine in the coming months.

In Kenya, about half a million people precariously stand at the lips of hunger with communities to the north of the country in grave danger given their reliance on livestock. Many Kenyans need assistance with food and food security.

In Ethiopia, amidst the truculent tyranny that continues to terrorize the Tigrayan people, malnutrition rates in drought-hit southern and southeastern Ethiopia have leaped above emergency thresholds with the 17-month war between government forces and Tigrayan Rebels showing no signs of abetting.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, parts of the drought-hit Horn of Africa region were already reeling from the effects of ongoing conflict, poverty and locust invasion. The conflict in Ukraine as well as climate change have also been fingered as culprits in scorching the pots and pans of many families in the Horn of Africa.

What can be said about a continent of such rich gifts but blinding poverty? What can be said about a continent where the poverty of children and their families has become so personal that they go hungry while staring down the bottomless emptiness of bare plates?

Experience has never failed to teach humanity that at the end of the day, it is the most vulnerable people anywhere that are left with the dregs, with the craps that fall from the children`s table.

Across much of the horn of Africa, conflicts as senseless as the savagery of those who stoke them rage, fueled by arms that make unaccountable journeys from Western arms industries. These conflicts devastate communities with massacres, rapes and sow hunger. In spite of the heroic efforts of many humanitarian organizations, unless the root causes of these conflicts are addressed and those who fuel them put away for good, treatment will continue to be reserved for symptoms and not causes.

Urgent efforts must also be made to address climate change at the world level and every country that has the interest of children as well as unborn generations at heart must key in. Experience has shown that as the world`s climate keeps changing, it is the circumstances of the most vulnerable children and their families that change for the worse.

The urgency of the situation must receive the stridency it deserves so that someday, cheers can rise for a continent and a world where no child lives hunger as a daily harrowing reality.

Kene Obiezu,

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