REPORT: Thousands Of People Died Needlessly In East Africa Hunge - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

REPORT: Thousands Of People Died Needlessly In East Africa Hunger

HUFFINGTONPOST.COM - Thousands of people, more than half of them children, died needlessly and millions of dollars were wasted because the international community did not respond to early warnings of an impending famine in East Africa, aid agencies said Wednesday, even as they warned of a new hunger crisis in West Africa.

Most rich donor nations waited until East Africa's crisis was in full swing before donating a substantial amount of money, said a report by Oxfam and Save the Children. A food shortage was predicted as early as August 2010, but most donors did not respond until famine was declared in parts of Somalia in July 2011.

The report, written by two prominent aid groups, even blamed aid agencies, saying they were too slow to scale up their response.

"We all bear responsibility for this dangerous delay that cost lives in East Africa and need to learn the lessons of the late response," said Oxfam head Barbara Stocking.

One Kenyan economist, though, said it would have been difficult to prevent the famine in south-central Somalia, which is mostly controlled by militants from al-Shabab, an insurgent group that has greatly limited the work that aid agencies can do in the region.

"I don't think the solution to famine is just sending money in good time," said economist James Shikwati. "It also needs policy changes. Look at Somalia. (Even) if you have all the money in your pocket and all the grain in your store, unless al-Shabab allows you to access their areas then people there are still going to starve."

Kenya and Ethiopia also suffered from the drought, but the famine hit hardest in areas of Somalia suffering from a toxic mixture of drought, war and high taxes levied by armed groups.

The aid agencies in the report said many donors wanted to first see proof that there was a humanitarian catastrophe. That caused a funding shortfall that delayed a large-scale response to the crisis by around six months. click here to read the full story

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