The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and partners warned on Tuesday, 15 February, that an extended, multi-season drought is causing extreme food insecurity in the Horn of Africa. And it’s putting 12 to 14 million people at danger as crops wilt and animals deteriorate.
“Resource-based conflicts are escalating as competition for water and pasture lands increases, and malnutrition rates are rising in affected areas of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, highlighting the need to sustain the rural livelihoods that underpin peace and food security across the Horn,” according to the report.
The food security outlook in the region would be significantly dependent on the performance of the upcoming rainy season, the FAO and its partners said at a briefing to foreign donors in Nairobi, Kenya. Forecasts are still uncertain. In the worst-case scenario, when the rains fail completely and agriculturally-dependent communities are not adequately supported, the number of people who are severely food insecure might rise to 15 – 20 million, with some of the worst-affected households enduring “catastrophic” starvation.
She said this after visiting Kenyan communities where goats and cows are dying from lack of water and pasture.
“The international community has a narrow window to prevent a major humanitarian catastrophe here,” she added.
A total of $130 million is urgently needed under FAO’s new Horn of Africa Drought Response Plan to provide time-critical assistance to extremely vulnerable households in drought-stricken areas of the three nations. In the first half of 2022, the strategy supports the production of up to 90 million litres of milk and up to 40 000 tonnes of staple food crops, putting over one million people who are food insecure on a more solid foundation.
The FAO plans to distribute animal feed and nutritional supplements to pastoralist families, as well as provide mobile veterinary health clinics, carry 10 000-liter collapsible water reservoirs to remote places, and modify existing wells to function on solar power. The organisation also hopes to deliver drought-tolerant early-maturing sorghum, maize, cowpea and other legumes and vegetables to farming people.