Jamel Egal was born the year it all fell apart. 1991. Somali President Siad Barre was overthrown and anarchy overtook the east African nation of Somalia. Warlords filled the void of a central government as lawlessness reigned and war became the norm.
Over the past year, 13.3 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia were thrown into crisis as a result of drought in the Horn of Africa, the worst in 60 years. It doesn't have to be this way.
July 20 is the one-year anniversary of the declaration of famine in Somalia -- a moment that, for many, marked the start of the 2011 food crisis in the Horn of Africa. What's the situation 12 months on?
Reasonable as it may be to pause for a moment to celebrate progress, it is critically important to keep in mind that that perfect storm has far from abated and now threatens to sweep up two more countries in its tumultuous wake.
As we take that last bite of pumpkin pie tonight, let us take a minute to think about the importance of pursuing the goal of feeding those hungry children whose faces haunt us, but more importantly, to give them the tools they need to feed themselves in the future.
Several months ago I came across an article about a refugee camp that profoundly struck me. Dadaab, the largest refugee camp in the world, was declared full occupancy in 2008, but has received between 600 and 1,500 Somali refugees daily since.
It's more than a bit disconcerting to look at the low level of the African famine relief response -- especially when you've been around long enough to remember the 1984 Ethiopian famine and its massive tug on the hearts of the world.
We heard stories from motherswho had lost their husbands. Families who journeyed for weeks to arrive malnourished and in need of medical assistance. And parents who had heartbreaking stories of losing children in the flight from famine in Somalia.
When children are starving, the most urgent need is to feed them. It seems simple, but is it really? This is the question humanitarian workers confront on a daily basis at the world's largest refugee complex, in Dadaab, Kenya.
As countries work their way out of poverty, increase their GDP and overall wealth, they become consumers of goods produced from countries such as the U.S. Their purchasing power increases and they import our products.