Food insecurity continues to stalk eastern Africa, with four countries counting 19.5 million people in its population among those feeling the severity of its bite.
The situation is exacerbated by conflict and famine that is targeting the few surviving livestock.
Somalia leads with 6.2 million people facing severe food insecurity then Ethiopia with 5.6 million, South Sudan (five million) and Tanzania (four million).
These numbers feed into the worrying likelihood of a world not meeting its commitment to zero hunger by 2030 as projected by 2021 Global Hunger Index.
In East Africa, Somalia is most affected by hunger at 50.8 percent, followed closely by Burundi and South Sudan at 49.9 percent. Rwanda and Djibouti recorded a percentage of 26.4 and 27.4 respectively. Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya recorded 25.1 percent, 24.1 percent and 23 percent, respectively.
Now, the World Food Programme is warning that 41 million people teeter on the brink of famine.
The 2021 GHI tracks key indicators used to measure progress toward Zero Hunger at national, regional and global levels reflecting multitude dimensions of hunger over time.
The dire hunger situation is the result of a toxic cocktail of the climate crisis, Covid-19, a desert locust invasion and increasingly severe and protracted violent conflicts. These factors slowed previous progress in fighting hunger.
However, within East Africa, the main cause of hunger is violent conflict as violence affects virtually every aspect of food systems, from production, harvesting, processing and transportation to input supply, financing, marketing and consumption.
For example, Somalia has been embroiled in armed conflict for the past 30 years. Though fighting has eased in recent years, it is considered fragile state.