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					No water, no life

In the space of just a few months, the price of a cow in Kenya has fallen from DKK 1,000 to 35. The drought has lasted for about five years and that is forcing cattle breeders to sell before their herds die from lack of water and grass. This year, the drought hit 10 million Kenyans, causing malnutrition, starvation and migrations. The majority of the population relies exclusively on farming. But when the rain fails, the harvest fails – and no harvest means no food. The situation is the same all over Africa, where 210 million people are chronically undernourished. But conditions for the world's poorest communities will deteriorate even further. CARE's latest report on climate change shows that in future, droughts will be harder, longer and more frequent in the areas already hit. By 2025, five billion people will probably be affected by water shortages. CARE's response to the drought Water shortages are an everyday fact of life in Niger – the least developed country worldwide. The drought returns year after year and in 2009 alone, about 2.6 million people will starve. They will be forced to take out loans or sell their animals or land to survive. Their situation will become even worse if the rain fails to come the following year as well. CARE is therefore building grain banks where poor families can save up together. The community grain banks buy grain just after the harvest when prices are low. Very poor families can then buy it cheap when the drought hits and prices are normally high. Any surplus grain is sold at the higher market price to fund stocks for the year ahead. CARE workers work determinedly to promote new, more drought-resistant crops in various parts of Africa. CARE also allocates donkeys to some of the most vulnerable families. A donkey can carry up to 100 litres of water, which ensures very poor families sufficient drinking water during periods of drought. It normally takes up to nine hours to fetch water – with a donkey it takes three, which frees up resources so that children can attend school. The donkey can be bred so the family can sell or rent out its donkey in return for money to buy food during droughts.

'I don't understand why the weather keeps changing, but we don't have enough rain any more. And without rain, we have no food and our domestic animals die. So my children starve and we only survive by borrowing money while we wait for my husband to return from away. That is all we can do while the drought lasts. We are in the hands of fate.' - Elema Huka, Dida Haphicha, Ethiopia. Mother of eight. Meet other climate witnesses on care.dk

DISASTER CALENDAR – droughts 2003-2004, Ethiopia: Unusually severe drought requires emergency aid totalling DKK 2.9 billion.

2004, South Africa: 15 million people affected by drought. 2004, Kenya: 60% of the harvest fails in most of the country. December 2004 – March 2005, Brazil: Drought causes damage totalling DKK 9 billion. 2005, Niger: 3.5 million people starve. 2005, China: 15 million people have dirty or insufficient drinking water. October 2005 – March 2006, Malawi: 500,000-ton food shortage. 2006, Kenya: 3.5 million people starve. 1 May – 10 September 2006, China: 18 million people suffer. In the hardest hit areas, two out of three rivers dry up. 2006, Malawi: 40% of the population suffers from drought. 2007, Swaziland: 60% of the maize harvest withers away. January 2007, Zimbabwe: 2007 is nominated year of drought. The harvest is halved. 2008, Tajikistan: The drought causes lost farming revenue equal to 20% of the country's GDP. January – October 2008, Somalia: Less than a third of the population have access to clean water. May – June 2008, Denmark: The worst drought in 49 years causes lost farming revenue totalling approximately DKK 2 billion. May 2008 – February 2009, Ethiopia and Eritrea: A total of 8.1 million people are affected by the drought (DO NOT USE). Now, Niger: 2.6 million people are facing starvation. That is almost every fifth Nigerian. Now, China: China is experiencing the worst drought in 50 years. 4.3 million people have insufficient clean drinking water. Now, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya: 20 million people are starving. Now, Thailand: Over 135 million litres of drinking water must be transported to 12,500 villages. Now, Guatemala: Up to 80% of the annual maize harvest is lost in the worst drought in 30 years. Almost half of all children under five years of age are chronically malnourished.
Sources: IRIN News, Reuters, Environment News Service, CARE.


				
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