The region is gripped by a historic drought caused by four consecutive failed rains. The crisis has something 22 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are struggling to find enough to eat, and the numbers are expected to rise.
#Horn of Africa drought
2️⃣2️⃣ million: The number of people expected to suffer extreme hunger in parts of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya due to drought.
At the beginning of the year, we warned that 13 million people were at risk…
Support is urgent.
— World Food Program (@WFP) August 19, 2022
Livestock is dying out and there are dire shortages of water and food. More than a million people have fled their homes and now live in overcrowded camps, where humanitarian workers rush to meet overwhelming needs.
No end in sight
WFP chief David Beasley concluded a visit to Somalia on Thursday, where there is a high risk of famine.
More than seven million people there, almost half of the populationare acutely food insecure, and 213,000 are already facing famine-like conditions.
Mr Beasley traveled to the southern town of Baardheere, where he met families, including malnourished children and their mothers, who were forced to leave their homes and travel long distances to seek humanitarian aid amid ongoing conflict.
“People here have been waiting for rain for years, but they can’t wait any longer for life-saving food aid. The world must act now to protect the most vulnerable communities from the threat of widespread famine in the Horn of Africa,” he said.
“There is still no end in sight to this drought crisis, so we must be given the resources needed to save lives and prevent people from falling into catastrophic levels of hunger and famine”.
Help with food and money
WFP said the drought is expected to continue in the coming months if a fifth bad rainy season is predicted later this year.
The agency is doing everything it can to support the most vulnerable, but urgently needs about $418 million over the next six months to meet growing needs.
Meanwhile, WFP focuses on using available funds to increase aid in the hardest hit areas. The goal is to reach some 8.5 million people across the region, up from 6.3 million at the start of the year.
The staff provides food and cash assistance to families, in addition to distributing fortified foods to women and children, as malnutrition rates rise. Cash grants and insurance schemes also help households buy food to keep their livestock alive, or to compensate them when they die.
In this regard, $10 million has been allocated from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to step up the drought response in Somalia.
UN humanitarian aid coordinator Martin Griffiths warned Friday that time is running out for people in the country.
“If we don’t act more vigorously now, it will run out and the malnourished children are likely to die first,” he said.
“This new funding will help humanitarian organizations get supplies and personnel to the scene as quickly as possible to prevent another catastrophe in Somalia. But it is not a solution. We need all hands on deck and mobilize all resources to prevent famine”.
CERF has contributed a total of $41 million to drought relief in Somalia so far this year.
The funding has been used to support food and nutrition interventions and to provide healthcare, water and sanitation, protection, shelter and education to those in need.