The United Nations’ (UN) World Food Program (WFP) is predicting that approximately 20 million more Somalians will go hungry as a result of the extended drought impacting the Horn of Africa.
“Meanwhile, an estimated 7.2 million Ethiopians are already not getting enough to eat, and half a million Kenyans are just a step away from catastrophic levels of hunger and malnutrition,” the agency said. “The Horn of Africa endured drought in 2016-2017, but humanitarian assistance was scaled up early, thus saving lives and averting a devastating famine. Since last year, WFP and its humanitarian partners have been warning that the current drought could be disastrous if the international community did not act immediately.”
According to Dr Chimimba David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, who is situated in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, the impact has been seen in households that cultivate crops or animals. Three million sheep have died in southern Ethiopia and Kenya’s arid and semi-arid regions, while in Somalia, up to 30% of household herds have died since mid-2021.
“Furthermore, beyond the drought, many of the areas that we are concerned about have been plagued with conflict and insecurity, as well as macroeconomic challenges and rising food prices and recently also by desert locusts,” said Phiri in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict is hurting the Horn
The situation in the Horn of Africa has been exacerbated by the aftermath from the Ukraine conflict, as food and gasoline prices continue to rise. Drought-stricken countries, according to the World Food Programme, are likely to be the hardest hit. The price of a food basket has already increased, especially in Ethiopia and Somalia, who rely significantly on wheat imports from the Black Sea region.
The FAO is also concerned about a lack of fertiliser supply from the Black Sea region in the second half of the year, according to Phiri.
The WFP previously sought for badly needed funds in February, but only received about 4% of what was requested. Over the following six months, $473 million will be needed. In January, the FAO announced a $130 million drought response strategy to help 1.5 million people. To date, almost $50 million has been received.