Jeffery Sachs blames Europe for drought, hunger in Africa

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Special Adviser to the United Nations Prof Jeffery Sachs has blamed western nations for causing hunger that is ravaging thousands of people in many countries in Africa, Kenya included.

The development expert said the drought that has gripped Kenya and the Horn of Africa region is because of human-induced climate change, driven by industrialised countries in the West.

He explained that poor people in the region are suffering from a problem created elsewhere, warning that drought is expected to intensify in the coming years and increase in frequency, because of climate change.

“In fact, the help that western governments are advancing to the region to combat drought should be considered as compensation and not assistance. They are responsible for the problem,” he said.

Sachs noted that many world leaders are more interested in emergency responses to famine calamities across the globe rather than address the main reasons behind the problem.

He said Kenya ignored warnings that there would be famine in the country. Sachs pointed out that the current emergency responses to the crisis in the country would not solve the root cause of the problem.

“The famine crisis in Kenya and the Horn of Africa will never be solved by emergency relief operations like what we are seeing now. What is needed is sustained investment in dry lands of the region to pull people out of the extreme poverty” said the diplomat in Nairobi tackle poverty.

Sachs, who is also the Director of the Earth Institute in Columbia University, US, explained that investing in livestock industry, building health and educational facilities, transport and communication infrastructure would help local communities fight drought.

“The pastoralists have been so poor that whenever they experience drought, they are totally devastated. They need massive investments to strengthen them, not relief supplies,” he pointed out

Sachs said that for the past two years, he has been warning world leaders about looming calamities in dry lands of the Horn of Africa but his messages have been warned.

“I spoke to US President Barack Obama about the extreme poverty in this region and the need for an emergency initiative to tackle poverty. But most of my appeals have fallen on deaf ears,” he said.

President and CEO of the JM Eagle, the world’s largest manufacturer of water pipes, said that enormous economic development can be unlocked in most places in Kenya if there was adequate supply of safe water for drinking and irrigation.

“The single greatest cause of extreme poverty in developing nations is lack of access to clean water. Without it, there is no productive agriculture, nutrition, sanitation and health,” he said

Since 2009, JM Eagle has donated at least 1,000 kilometers of water pipes worth Sh180 million to rural villages in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and other African countries to boost supply of clean water.


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