According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS), food insecurity in East Africa is predicted to persist into 2022. This is driven primarily by the impacts of conflict, multi-season drought, floods, and economic shocks on household food and income sources.
“Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes are expected across much of the region, with the most severe outcomes anticipated in conflict-affected areas of northern Ethiopia, conflict- and flood-affected areas of South Sudan, and drought-affected areas of southern Ethiopia and south-central Somalia. Other areas of high concern include Yemen and Sudan, where ongoing conflict and civil unrest continue to fuel protracted economic crises, and drought-affected areas of Kenya,” the network said.
“Many of those affected by the above humanitarian emergencies are recently or protractedly displaced, including an estimated 16 million internally displaced people located across East Africa and Yemen and approximately 4.7 million refugees hosted within the region.”
One of the highest areas of concern remains northern Ethiopia, where households face displacement and limited access to harvests, markets or humanitarian assistance.
The crisis continues
“Most of Tigray and some neighbouring areas of Afar and Amhara are in ’emergency’ ranking with populations likely in ‘catastrophe’. High levels of global acute malnutrition remain very concerning, with proxy estimates assessed by find-and-treat campaigns reaching over 14% in central Tigray and over 28% in Afar.”
A multi-season drought is expected to push to “crisis” and “emergency” ranking in southern and southeastern Ethiopia, Somalia, and eastern and northern Kenya.
“Crop failure, excess livestock mortality, and plummeting household purchasing power are increasingly likely. As of late November, cumulative livestock mortalities already exceeded 220 500 in Borena, Guji and Dawa zones in Ethiopia and there were multiple reports of cattle and sheep deaths in pastoral areas of southern Somalia and eastern Kenya,” FEWS said.
“In Somalia, cereal prices have already approached levels last observed during the 2016/2017 and 2010/2011 droughts.”
Economic shocks are ubiquitous, but especially prominent in Ethiopia, Sudan, Yemen and South Sudan, where they are typically intertwined or worsened by ongoing war and climatic shocks. In Sudan, for example, despite the availability of the local harvest, high production and fuel costs continued to push sorghum and millet prices to levels ranging from 4.6 to 5.7 times the five-year average in September.
The devaluation of the Ethiopian Birr, along with weak crops, drove staple food prices up by 2.4 – 2.5 times the five-year average in September in Ethiopia. Food and non-food prices are at historically high levels, restricting household food access and leading to substantial food assistance demands.