According to the World Food Programme (WFP), an estimated 13 million people in the Horn of Africa are suffering from extreme hunger.
Drought has devastated pastoral and agricultural populations in southern and southeastern Ethiopia, southeastern and northern Kenya, and south-central Somalia, with expectations of below-average rainfall threatening to exacerbate already poor conditions in the coming months.
“Harvests are wrecked, cattle are dying, and hunger is spreading as recurring droughts devastate the Horn of Africa,” said Michael Dunford, regional director of the World Food Programme’s Regional Bureau for Eastern Africa, in a statement on Tuesday. “The situation necessitates immediate humanitarian intervention and consistent support to strengthen community resilience for the future.”
Water and pasture shortages caused by three consecutive failed wet seasons have destroyed crops and resulted in very high livestock fatalities. Furthermore, increases in staple food costs, inflation, and a lack of agricultural labour have limited people’s ability to purchase food.
According to the World Food Programme, families are being evicted from their houses, resulting in rising tension across communities. Malnutrition rates remain high throughout the region and are likely to deteriorate if prompt action is not done.
The UN has often expressed concern about the region’s fragile state, which is prone to armed conflict. UNICEF, the organisation’s children’s agency, stated earlier this month that more than six million Ethiopians are projected to require immediate humanitarian assistance by mid-March.
According to the Somali NGO Consortium, more than seven million people in neighbouring Somalia require immediate assistance. Extreme weather events, according to experts, are becoming more frequent and intense as a result of climate change.
In October of last year, the UN warned that accelerated climate change could harm more than 100 million “very poor” people across Africa, as well as wipe away the continent’s few glaciers within 20 years.