The Stream, February 15: Food Prices Double After East Africa Drought

The Global Rundown

Drought and failed rains have pushed food prices to record levels across East Africa. Residents returned to their homes downstream of California’s damaged Oroville Dam after an evacuated order was lifted Tuesday. Sea ice in Antarctica reached its lowest extent on record. Aid agencies warned of a health and sanitation crisis in Nigeria due to a lack of toilets. A U.S. Supreme Court official recommended that the court decide against Florida’s request to limit Georgia’s water use. The city council of Flint, Michigan is demanding answers from the state after it suspended financial help for the city’s water bills. A report found that Ireland is losing 45 percent of its treated water through leaky pipes.

“Governor Snyder wants these people to pay for water that they feel is not safe to drink. This is war. This is war … there is money to cover these bills.” — Jackie Poplar, councilwoman in Flint, Michigan, calling on the governor to address the city council about a decision last week to suspend state water credits that helped the city and residents pay their water bills. The state based its decision on tests showing that lead levels in the city’s water are now below federal limits, though residents are still told to filter their drinking water. (MLive)

In context: Need a backgrounder on the Flint water crisis? It’s all here.

By The Numbers

2,800 cubic meters per second Amount of water being released from the Oroville Dam in California, a “sustainable” level that officials believe will keep the dam and downstream communities safe. Damage to the dam’s spillway forced thousands of people to evacuate, but the order was lifted on Tuesday. Los Angeles Times

1 latrine per 100 people Number available to communities in Nigeria’s Borno state, where the Boko Haram insurgency has destroyed water and sanitation facilities and displaced nearly 2 million people. The shortage could spread waterborne diseases and increase the risk of sexual violence for women, aid agencies warn. Reuters

765 million liters Amount of water lost each day from leaky pipes in the Irish Water system, about 45 percent of the national utility’s total water production. Irish Times

Science, Studies, And Reports

A dangerous rise in food prices threatens to further strain food security in East Africa, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In the wake of a drought and failed harvests, cereal prices have doubled to record levels in some areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Reuters

In context: Learn more about the devastating effect of the 2016 El Nino on Africa’s food security.

Sea ice in Antarctica reached its lowest extent on record yesterday, covering 2.28 million square kilometers, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. Ice in the region generally covers its smallest area during February each year. Reuters

On The Radar

The U.S. Supreme Court should not impose a limit on the amount of water Georgia can use from the Apalachicola – Chattahoochee – Flint River Basin, according to a report submitted by the court’s special master. The special master said there was not enough evidence that a limit would actually solve the dispute between Georgia and Florida, which has persisted for three decades. Associated Press