I remember the editors told me it wasn't a story. No one wanted this one.
"We can't sell it."
I had just returned from the Liben area of south Oromia province, in Ethiopia where I had witnessed the effects of malnutrition in several communities caused by a "green famine."
Contrary to the green surroundings the area was indeed in a serious drought, what many in a neighboring province were calling a green famine. This term refers to a situation in which the land is green and crops are growing, but in which people are starving. In the Liben area there was enough rain for short grasses to grow and for trees and brush to remain green but not enough for crops to complete their cycle. This was the third successive crop failure. Floods in the south hurt both crops and cattle and with livestock less healthy they are selling for less at market. Less earnings for herdsmen means less money to buy food. That coupled with rising food prices because of country wide inflation have forced many families to live on a single grain diet. The famine is likely to worsen in the spring, when healthy crops would have been due.
This child in Nagele Borena has potentially fatal severe malnutrition (SAM, or Severe Acute Malnutrition) and was brought to a stabilization center where he will be closely watched and fed high nutrient formula and "Plumpy nut" the ubiquitous super paste of the aid world.
East Africa is in a famine again in 2012.
I wonder if it will be a story this year?