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Repost of a previous article for Blogger Action Day (#bad11)

What would you do if the next time you went to the grocery store, you arrived at the checkout line with all your normal purchases, and the cost is now twice as much as it was last week?

Then, you return the following week to see that the price of the food you take for granted is now 300% greater than before? Could you still make ends meet? Would your family have enough to get through until prices went down? What if… the prices weren’t going down?

According to Elizabeth Flock of the Washington Post:

Seven hundred and fifty thousand Somalis may die of starvation this year. That’s equivalent to wiping out every single person in Washington [DC], plus 150,000 more.

The scale of the disaster in the Horn of Africa is something difficult to wrap your head around. Consider some of the other numbers:

  • The rate of malnutrition in Somalia is now 50 percent, meaning half of its people are at risk of malnutrition, starvation or death.
  • Some 12 million people across the region need food aid, a number equivalent to the entire population of Illinois.
  • The amount of money needed to stop the disaster in Somalia is $2.4 billion, the same amount of money Warren Buffett made today alone on paper.
  • The United Nations is $1.1 billion short of that goal, the same cost as the initial estimated cost of the damage of Hurricane Irene.

To get a visual representation of the Horn of Africa crisis, consider this infographic from Washington Post / elocal:

(Click image to enlarge)

Famine in Somalia

Created by in partnership with The Washington Post


One of the most striking factoids on this infographic are the circles comparing the Somali diet and the American diet (see “Malnutrition Before the Famine” section, middle right.)

In light grey, a larger circle encompasses the inner colorful circle representing the composition of a typical diet. This grey circle represents the percentage of income spent on food. Here in the United States, we spend 5% or less of our total income on our food (bottom circle). Nutrients are cheap and plentiful in our country. True, it is not the healthiest food, but with just a few dollars in your pocket you can get enough to survive – an average of 2,230 calories a day.

Contrast that with the grey circle on the Somali diet: Almost 80% of the average Somali’s income is spent on food (top circle). In a developing country, where Americans would be shocked how much our dollar buys, local families are spending nearly everything they earn just to put food on the table. They are spending much more in order to get meals from flours and cereals which total only 1,762 calories.

Here’s the good news: 1.85 million Somalis, nearly half of the people in need, have received food aid so far. We are making a difference.

However, a report released Tuesday by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that four million Somalis remain in crisis nationwide, and that 750,000 people risk death in the Horn of Africa nation within the next four months. 

Here’s how to help:
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