Drought adds to hunger strains in East Africa

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Drought adds to hunger strains in East Africa

Nairobi, Kenya – Millions of people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are going hungry and forced to take desperate measures to survive, as the Horn of Africa region experiences one of its worst droughts in recent years following three consecutive poor rainy seasons.

Qu Guangzhou, director of the Food and Agriculture Organisation Liaison Office in New York, warned that between 12 and 40 million people are projected to face high acute food insecurity across the three countries in the middle of this year if urgent action is not taken.

He said protecting the livelihoods of farmers, pastoralists and agropastoralists in the Horn of Africa, which represent the majority of those at risk of acute hunger, should be a foremost priority.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the drought is affecting 90 percent of Somalia’s territory, generating a fast deteriorating crisis.

Currently, 4.5 million people need urgent assistance, up from 3.2 million in December.


Additionally, 670,000 people have been displaced in search of food, water and pasture, up from 245,000 recorded in December.

Diseases, including measles, are also on the rise due to severe water shortages and inadequate access to sanitation and hygiene facilities.

The UN agency warned that Somalia’s drought emergency is expected to get worse ahead of the next rainy season in April.

Taye Selassie, ambassador and permanent representative of Ethiopia to the UN, said 50 million people in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an eight-country trade bloc in Africa, are facing food insecurity.

He said that 20.3 million people need emergency food assistance, worth at least $3 billion. Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia host 79 percent of the population that is facing the disastrous situation.

Gideon Kinuthia, political coordinator for Kenya to the UN, said a food and nutrition security assessment conducted by the Kenyan government and its partners in January showed that 3.1 million people required immediate food assistance, an increase of 300,000 people between September and January.


Grant Leaity, deputy director of emergency operations at the UN Children’s Fund, said 5.7 million children in the Horn of Africa are threatened by acute malnutrition including 1.7 million by severe acute malnutrition.

Martin Griffiths, under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs at the UN, said due to the frequency of shocks, drought-affected people in the region have limited time to recover before the next crisis hits. 

Courtesy: China Daily


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