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Jane Howard works for the Division of Communications at WFP’s Rome headquarters.
Erratic rains, conflict and stubbornly high food prices are exacerbating hunger across the countries of the Horn of Africa. WFP is aiming to feed some 20 million people in the coming months.
ROME -- Kenyans are suffering from the worst drought in almost a decade, with harvests failing for the fourth year running in many parts of the country. The number of Ethiopians requiring emergency food relief has increased by over one million this year alone. And Somalis are facing their worst humanitarian crisis in 18 years, with one in five children suffering from acute malnutrition and no sign of a let-up in the fighting.
While in some areas, seasonal rains have arrived, they do not necessarily bring immediate relief. It takes time for pasture to regenerate fully and many herders have already lost livestock. Moreover, it will be months before the harvest comes in.
Rain has finally come to parched Kenya but it hasn't solved the hunger crisis. Read story
Meanwhile, WFP is using food to help poor farmers conserve water better and so become less vulnerable to hunger in future. Watch video
WFP's On the road video blog went to Kenya recently to look at the effects of drought. Take a look
Food prices high
Food prices in this region are still high, often stretching family budgets to breaking point. In addition, the global economic slowdown means that many migrant workers have been unable to send the same amount of money back home.
Now cash for food assistance is running low. WFP depends entirely on voluntary contributions from governments and private donors, but this year we are facing a shortfall in our budget.
For our major operations in response to the drought and high food prices in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and Djibouti, WFP requires just over US$1 billion to cover the next six months.
In recent decades, the Horn of Africa has been continuously in crisis, afflicted by natural disasters, wars, endemic poverty and malnutrition. The multiple shocks that have hit the Horn – one after the other – have steadily eroded people’s coping capacity.
Many of those who once had assets such as livestock that could save them from poverty, have sold them - often for very little in return. The poorest are trapped in a downward spiral of destitution, in which malnutrition is a constant threat.
Over the next six months, WFP aims to feed 20 million people in the Horn of Africa region.