Drought is one of the indicators of famine in developing countries. The African Development Bank (AfDB) has recently pledged half a billion dollar relief package to 14 Southern and Eastern African countries most affected by an El Nino-propelled drought.
According to Wikipedia, El Niño is the warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (commonly called ENSO) and it is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific (between approximately the International Date Line and 120°W), including off the Pacific coast of South America.
The drought response package consists of $5 million in emergency relief and $361 million in short-to-long term support from various windows of the bank’s financial instruments to provide ‘new financial resources’ to the drought affected areas.
The $549 million package will abet an estimated 36 million people needing food assistance as abnormally high temperatures and the worst drought the region has seen in decades, parch staple crops from South Africa to Zimbabwe.
Direct effects of El Niño resulting in drier conditions occur in parts of Southeast Asia and Northern Australia, increasing bush fires, worsening haze, and decreasing air quality dramatically.
The effects of drought leave an indelible mark through economic sectors, communities, and ecosystems; its impact should be minimized by monitoring emerging droughts and many other factors to anticipate food shortages.