Horn of Africa hunger crisis pushes millions to the brink
Story | 24 May 2023
The drought that continues to ravage the Horn of Africa was declared a national disaster in Kenya in September 2021. It now spans four consecutive failed seasons and has resulted in close to 2.4 million livestock deaths, dried-out water sources and sharply reduced harvests.
The number of people in urgent need of food assistance has risen five-fold, from 739,000 in August 2020 to 3.5 million in June 2022. It is projected to rise to 4.4 million between October and December 2022, with a record 1.2 million people facing emergency levels of food scarcity.
The nutrition situation has deteriorated in most counties. About 884,000 children aged 6-59 months, and 115,700 pregnant or breastfeeding women, are acutely malnourished and in need of treatment, up from 755,000 and 103,000 respectively since February 2022. Rates of malnutrition are expected to continue worsening in 12 arid counties – Baringo, Garissa, Isiolo, Kilifi, Kitui, Kwale, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Turkana and Wajir.
Food prices are rising beyond the reach of vulnerable families in drought-stricken, arid lands and among the urban poor. Prices for food and fuel had already increased a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on supply chains. They have continued to rise sharply, due to the conflict in Ukraine.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is providing cash to more than half a million people, out of an estimated 700,000-plus at emergency levels of hunger, for six months. WFP is expanding prevention and treatment of malnutrition nutrition programmes from 8 to 15 counties, to reach 570,000 young children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
WFP is also providing assistance to over 500,000 refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma camps and in the Kalobeyei settlement. However, funding shortages mean refugees last received a full ration – which meets their minimum food requirement – in 2018. This has seen rising poor food-consumption scores, with crisis levels of acute malnutrition and more than 70 percent of children under 5 suffering from anaemia.
WFP requires an additional US$88.5 million to provide full rations for six months.
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