Climate and food security expert Jim Hansen, based at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, at Colombia University, recently laid out some of the causes of food insecurity in drought-afflicted East Africa.
Among the main reasons he cites is a decline, since the 1990s, in agricultural research and development in this region, a decline, he says, that must be reversed if we are to prevent future famine in the region.
Hansen describes work under way or in the works to help reduce the vulnerability of the region’s food producers to severe droughts and other climate shocks. This work includes providing livestock herders with insurance against drought and crop farmers with better access to seasonal climate forecasts.
New research from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), where Hansen leads research on Managing Climate Risk, finds that it’s now possible to predict climate conditions in advance of planting seasons in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa, but that barriers still exist to getting relevant information, and in appropriate forms, to farmers. To scale climate information down to levels useful at the local and national levels, in a separate initiative, Hansen has been collaborating with several CGIAR and other research centres to produce downscaled climate grids which produce monthly data that can better inform crop modelling and adaptation studies.
View a 5-minute filmed interview of Hansen on the causes of the current food crisis in the Horn and work to prevent future such crisis posted on the website of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers: The root causes of food insecurity in East Africa, 27 Aug 2011.