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Mauritania goes hungry amid Sahel food crisis: WFP
by Staff Writers
Nouakchott (AFP) Feb 9, 2012

A food crisis in Mauritania as a result of drought is expected to be three times worse that in 2010, when the Sahel was crippled by food shortages, the World Food Programme said Thursday.

"The levels of food insecurity are three times higher than in the same period in 2012," said a WFP report, highlighting the impact of poor rains and rising food prices.

WFP said some 700,000 people are currently going hungry in the west African nation, calling for "urgent action to help the poorest households and avoid a major humanitarian crisis."

Since January Mauritania with the support of the international community has carried out a 112-million euro ($148 million) project, "Hope 2012", amongst others, will see 2,400 shops open selling subsidised food products.

The Sahel belt edging the Sahara desert stretches from Senegal to Eritrea is particularly sensitive to drought and famine. In 2010 some 10 million people were affected by a severe food crisis in the region.

This year NGOs have raised the alarm after poor rains in 2011.

Oxfam said the lack of rains saw harvests drop 25 percent compared to 2010, leaving more than one million children threatened with severe malnutrition.

The crisis has so far affected Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger but the UN has also raised concerns over Burkina Faso, Senegal and northern parts of Nigeria and Cameroon.

In January the EU announced it was doubling aid to the Sahel to 95 million euros in a "race against time" as 23 million people began 2012 facing "huge uncertainty about how they will feed themselves and their families."

2C warming goal now 'optimistic' - French scientists
Paris (AFP) Feb 9, 2012 - French scientists unveiling new estimates for global warming said on Thursday the 2 C (3.6 F) goal enshrined by the United Nations was "the most optimistic" scenario left for greenhouse-gas emissions.

The estimates, compiled by five scientific institutes, will be handed to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for consideration in its next big overview on global warming and its impacts.

The report -- the fifth in the series -- will be published in three volumes, in September 2013, March 2014 and April 2014.

The French team said that by 2100, warming over pre-industrial times would range from two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to 5.0 C (9.0 F).

The most pessimistic scenarios foresee warming of 3.5-5.0 C (6.3-9.0 F), the scientists said in a press release.

Achieving 2C, "the most optimistic scenario," is possible but "only by applying climate policies to reduce greenhouse gases," they said.

In its Fourth Assessment Report published 2007, the IPCC said Earth had already warmed in the 20th century by 0.74 C (1.33 F).

It predicted additional warming in the 21st century of 1.1-6.4 C (1.98-11.52 F), of which the likeliest range was 1.8-4.0 C (3.24-7.2 F).

The French estimates are derived from two different computer models that crunch data for four scenarios based on atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas.

The work differs from previous calculations as it takes into account the reflectivity of clouds and uptake of CO2 by the oceans and other factors that can skew the equation, the authors said.

Meeting in Cancun, Mexico in December 2010, countries under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) set 2 C (3.6 F) above pre-industrial times as the maximum limit for warming.

They vowed to consider lowering it to 1.5 C (2.7 F) if scientific evidence warranted this.

Small island states and other poor nations badly exposed to climate change are lobbying for the 1.5 C (2.7 F) limit.

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Mozambique flood deaths rise to 40: government
Maputo (AFP) Feb 9, 2012 - Rescue workers in Mozambique have found the bodies of three more people killed in flooding after twin tropical storms ravaged the Indian Ocean coast in January, bringing the death toll to 40, an official said Thursday.

"The death toll from cyclones Dando and Funso that struck the country in January has risen from 37 last week to 40 this week, based on the government's weekly monitoring data," government spokesman Alberto Nkutumula told AFP.

The latest victims died when their houses collapsed on them and were found as emergency teams removed debris in the central province of Zambezia, the worst hit with 25 deaths.

The government estimates 119,000 people in the centre and south have been affected by the storms, which brought torrential rains, winds of 170 kilometres (106 miles) per hour and flooding that destroyed 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of crops as well as bridges and roads.

The World Food Programme is giving emergency food aid to more than 80,000 people hit by the floods.

Nkutumula warned the situation could deteriorate further as the rainy season continues. The weather forecast for the rest of February and March is for normal to above-normal rainfall for much of the country.

Officials have had to partially open a floodgate on the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric dam, causing the Zambezi River to rise above flood alert level in some lowland areas.


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Extreme droughts could increase by 15 percent in Spain by the middle of the century
Cartagena, Spain (SPX) Jan 31, 2012
A team at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena has designed a new method for calculating drought trends. Initial results suggest that by the year 2050 there could be a 15% increase compared to the droughts seen in 1990 in the Segura river basin. At the beginning of 2011, water levels in Spain's reservoirs reached an average of 77.83% of total capacity. However, the lack of rain last yea ... read more

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