In stunning reporting last week, Inside Climate News cited studies that claim climate change is responsible for famine conditions currently impacting 100 thousand in East Africa. Some 23 million people living in the Horn of Africa countries of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya are already experiencing famine resulting from a drought that is 100% likely attributable to climate change, according to a report released last week by World Weather Attribution. Tens of thousands have migrated to refugee camps in Kenya to escape the famine and millions of animals have died in the drought.
In establishing a link between famine and climate change, famine-impacted countries could be eligible for money from a “loss and damage” fund established at last year’s UNFCCC COP27.
The drying out of plants and soil by intense heat and not lack of rainfall has led to the devastating famine.
“Climate change has made this drought exceptional,” said Joyce Kimutai, a Kenya-based climate scientist and attribution expert who co-authored the WWA report.
Drought conditions have plagued Horn of Africa countries Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya since 2020.
“While climate change played a big role… what drives food insecurity and famine is to a very large degree driven by vulnerability and exposure and not just a weather event,” said Friederike E. L Otto, a climate scientist with Imperial College London and one of the report’s authors. “There are a lot of other factors that drive how drought can turn into a disaster.”
Other than climate change, other factors contributing to famine include extreme poverty, natural disasters, conflict and displacement, and food insecurity, according to UN Refugees.
Responding to potential food crises by establishing early warming systems has helped in some cases; however, many vulnerable countries lack the necessary resources to address the variables which can result in a famine.
“We’re still lacking a kind of link between these early warning systems and the response side,” said Cheikh Kane, of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center.