NAIROBI, Kenya, July 13 (UPI) -- The worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in more than 60 years is likely the result of strong seasonal weather phenomenon in the region, scientists say.
U.N. officials are warning that those living in the region, particularly in Somalia, are facing starvation because of lingering drought that is expected to last for much of the year.
The United Nations' humanitarian news agency IRIN notes, however, that global climate change isn't the likely culprit.
Philip Thornton, a scientist splitting his duties between Kenya's International Livestock Research Institute and Scotland's Institute of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, said the idea that parts of Africa are drying up is wrong.
"Some people think that East Africa is drying and has dried over recent years," he told the news agency. "Currently there is no hard, general evidence of this and it is very difficult as yet to see where the statistical trends of rainfall in the region are heading but these will of course become apparent in time."
The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration notes that as pools of warm water trigger more rain events in the Pacific Rim, western winds over the Indian Ocean tend to draw moisture out East Africa.