The main points of this article are that early warning systems had predicted the food crisis many months before it occurred, that there was a huge funding deficit, that the 2011 crisis has been one of the worst in the recent past, and that media coverage of the emergency has been erratic and unhelpful.
Shah quotes the words of Inter Press Service, who claim that the globe had a chance to prevent thousands of deaths that are occurring in areas of Somalia as a result of the famine, if only governments had taken heed of the early warning systems that forecast the crisis over seven months prior. They contend that there has been a disastrous collapse of the world's shared duty to take action. Apparently, at the time of this article being written, 3,500 people were escaping Somalia every day and setting up camp in areas of Ethiopia and Kenya that were experiencing one of the most arid years in 60 years. By the time the U.N. declares the situation a famine, a large number of lives have already been lost.
Shah points out that many pre-emptive measures could have been taken, supposing funds were accessible at an earlier time. Shah quotes an Oxfam spokesperson as she explains that if a sign of such a crisis shows up, the world should not simply wait for it to become an emergency. Irrigation systems could have been installed, making appropriate use of funds. Furthermore, individuals could have been vaccinated against predicted diseases, and decent organisation of food aid put in place, in advance of the need.
In comparison to earlier famines, this state in Somalia is as dire or even more so than those discussed through recent years in Niger (2005), Ethiopia (2001), Sudan (1998) and Somalia (1992) (Shah). Nevertheless, this is the harshest food security crisis in Africa since the Somalia famine in the early 1990s. Furthermore, the Somalia crisis in question is anticipated to have an progressively overwhelming influence on other countries in the area (Shah).
Shah explains how media coverage has been erratic throughout the crisis. Apparently, at times there have been full reports, often in response to a government request for the crisis to be tackled and publicised. At other times, however, the exposure has disappeared from headlines soon after reporting has begun (Shah).
This article has taught me about the avoidable element of the 2011 famine in East Africa. Furthermore, it details the early warning systems that predicted the crisis and how that, in spite of these, governments failed to act in supplying funds to avert the situation. However, what seems to be missing from the article is information on what could be done to help alleviate the crisis, once it had occurred. Shah does well in highlighting the mistakes that have been made prior to the emergency, but dedicates less time to offering an opinion on how the world can move forwards in terms of helping the people of East Africa.
Shah, A. “East Africa Food Crisis 2011.” Global Issues. 31 July 2011. Web. 2 June 2012. http://www.globalissues.org/article/796/east-africa-food-crisis#Mediacoverage