Lack of Safe Water in Countries Threatened by Famine
By admin April 5, 2017

Photo By: Bartosz Hadyniak


Just six years after Somalia faced a famine killing 260,000 people of starvation in 2011, famine has now been declared in certain regions of South Sudan. Both are caused by the same east African drought. This drought is worsening the situation in South Sudan, a country going through a civil war since 2013. This war has already forced 3 million people out of their homes, which has paralyzed agriculture threatening future food supplies. According to International aid officials interviewed by the New York Times, this is “one of the biggest humanitarian disasters since World War II.” Only 41 percent of children had access to clean water in the country and the drought has further exacerbated this situation.

Famine is threatening Somalia, Yemen, and northeast Nigeria in addition to South Sudan. According to UNICEF, water shortage, poor sanitation, and hygiene are now compounding the threat to malnourished children throughout the region. In northeast Nigeria, the fight against an insurgency by Boko Haram has damaged or destroyed 75 percent of water and sanitation infrastructures, which has left 3.8 million people with no access to safe drinking water. In Somalia, it is estimated that around 4 million people will be in need of water, sanitation, and hygiene in the coming weeks. Water borne diseases are rampant when water sources have dried up and toilet facilities are in short supplies.

Somalia has seen water prices increase six times over the normal prices making it unaffordable for the poorest part of the population. Five million people in South Sudan and at least 14.5 million people in Yemen are currently left with no access to safe water, basic sanitation, and hygiene. This water crisis could lead to fatal diarrheal diseases. Indeed, Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF director of Emergency Programmes, said, “unsafe water can cause malnutrition or make it worse, no matter how much food a malnourished child eats, he or she will not get better if the water they are drinking is not safe.”

UN Agencies such as UNICEF are now working with national and local partners to provide water, sanitation, and hygiene to children in the region. They are working to increase water points and sanitation facilities in the affected communities. Unfortunately, Manuel Fontaine explained “without an end to the conflicts plaguing these countries, without sustainable and unimpeded access to the children in need of support and without more resources, even our best efforts will not be enough.”.

Water scarcity and poor sanitation is a common issue in conflict-hit areas as demonstrated in Aleppo. Indeed, in August 2016, over 2 million people were left with no access to running water and attacks had damaged electricity networks that were essential to pump water supplies. UNICEF had therefore provided emergency water trucking to over 325,000 people every day in the western parts of Aleppo.

But today, as Dominic MacSorley, chief executive of Concern Worldwide says, “The international humanitarian system is at its breaking point.” Indeed, with the current President of the United States urging Congress to cut foreign aid to the United Nations, many worry the consequences and the multiplication of deaths in the famine hit regions.

It is important to stress that scientists have been warning the international community for years on the increased risks of droughts due to climate change. And the countries that are affected the most produce almost none of the carbon emissions that are responsible for this climate phenomenon.


Read More:

UNICEF: 27 Million People Lack Safe Water In Countries Facing Or At Risk Of Famine

Africa News: Lack Of Clean Water Leaves 5 Million In Risk Of Disease In South Sudan

Reuters: Lack Of Clean Water Poses Extra Threat To Millions Facing Famine

UN: Children In Countries Facing Famine Threatened By Lack Of Water, Sanitation

UNCEF: Taps Run Dry For 2 Million People As Fighting Intensifies In Aleppo

New York Times: Drought And War Heighten Threat Of Not Just 1 Famine, But 4


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