The drought afflicting the Horn of Africa region has left millions at the mercy of hunger, threatening the livelihoods of farmers and pastoralists, and putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of children at risk. Protecting the brains and bodies of young children, and pregnant and lactating women through special nutritional food is our top priority.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is urgently scaling up the delivery of highly fortified, supplementary food products especially targeting the first 1000 days of life. We are working closely with governments and communities and key partners, such as the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, to ensure young lives are saved.
As this devastating drought deepens, time is of the essence and WFP is appealing for urgent funding to cover a 40 percent shortfall in our US$477 milllion budget amounting to US$189.35 million for operations in the Horn of Africa, including vital food for growing numbers of refugees in Kenya and Ethiopia. We also urge the continued support for the longer term initiatives that will help communities living in the Horn of Africa to break out of the vicious cycle of drought and disaster. Such efforts in Karamoja, in eastern Uganda - in advance of this full-scale emergency - have helped to build resiliency there and require less emergency action now.
WFP has been preparing for this drought cycle and scaling up through the past half year. Our network of more than 30 offices, and 1,200 staff in the Horn of Africa - most based at the community level - serve as a backbone for national and global action to save lives.
Working in partnership with national governments and non-governmental organizations in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, and Uganda, we are delivering more than half a million metric tons of food to over 6 million people across this region – a number that we anticipate could rise to up to 10 million people in need of food in the months ahead.
Drought in the Horn of Africa is becoming more frequent. Communities that used to have the relative luxury of several years of regular rainfall to recover from the occasional year of drought are now learning to live in an almost constant state of food insecurity due to a lack of water.
The shift in weather patterns that afflicts the Horn of Africa region means that alongside the periodic delivery of emergency food aid, we also need to support a broader approach based on providing food assistance that builds resilience, buffers communities from the impact of frequent droughts, and acts as an investment in longer term solutions to hunger.