Fighting climate change and famine with forests in the Horn of Africa

Right now, 17 million people in the Horn of Africa are at risk of starvation. Massive crop failures, due to lack of rainfall, have led to a problem so dire that senior United Nations officials called this the worst humanitarian crisis they have faced. But they should have seen this coming: the region has experienced dry spells for the past three years, largely influenced by climate change.

News of this famine has brought back memories of my own childhood 25 years ago, in the rural parts of eastern Uganda. I grew up in a region that has remained poor due to the scars of war, the infamous Uganda People’s Army insurgency against president Museveni that lasted for more than eight years. Our crops and livestock suffer from prolonged dry spells.

All of this was exacerbated by the occasional rustling of cattle from Teso by the neighboring Karimojong warriors, stripping my community of the little that the war had left behind. As a young man, I often went to school hungry and lived among children who were malnourished.

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