More hunger pangs as Igad forecasts failed rains again

Sunday February 26 2023
 family prepares a meal of beans in Turkana

A family prepares a meal of beans in hunger-stricken Turkana County in Kenya. Economies in the greater Horn of Africa are expected to take further beating from ongoing drought. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Economies in the greater Horn of Africa are expected to take further beating from ongoing drought, which regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) says will see another poor rainy season in the coming months.

And early estimates released this week show that each of the economies will need at least five percent of their GDP to rebuild or cushion citizens from the heat of drought, implying urgent diversion of funds needed to deal with the humanitarian crisis.

Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are all expected to experience below-normal rainfall, with some parts of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, and South Sudan also expected to face the same problem.

The details emerged from the Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF63) convened in Nairobi to examine the forecast for March, April May (MAM) 2023 — the usual peak rainy season. It pointed to a depressed rainfall and high temperatures.

Sixth failed season

In parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda that have been most affected by the recent drought, this could be the sixth failed consecutive rainfall season.


At least 11 million livestock have already died in the region and the MAM harvests that often start around August, are not guaranteed. MAM rainfall contributes up to 60 percent of the total annual rainfall in the Greater Horn of Africa.

IGAD Executive Secretary, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu expressed concerns that the slow response in avoiding or minimising the worst effects of extreme weather in spite of early warning information. “There is an urgent need to invest in early action and building community resilience,” he said.

Limited forecast

On the other hand, the GHACOF63 report says that wetter than normal conditions are expected over the cross-border areas of Ethiopia and South Sudan, north-western Kenya, and parts of central and southern Tanzania.

In parts of central, western Kenya, north-eastern and southwestern Uganda, northern Burundi, central and northern Tanzania, and eastern South Sudan, there is no favoured rainfall category with predictions indicating equal chances of below, normal, and above normal rains.

Probability of warmer than normal temperatures are most enhanced over Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan, north-western South Sudan, southern, central, and north-eastern Ethiopia, northern Somalia, northern and western Kenya, and parts of south-eastern and western Tanzania.

The GHACOF63 was convened on February 22, 2023, by the ICPAC in collaboration with the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of Igad Member States, World Meteorological Organisation, and other partners.

According to IFRC Director for Africa, Mohammed Mukhier, these prolonged and recurrent climate change-induced droughts will worsen existing ones.

“The drought is exacerbating humanitarian challenges in the region, including the ongoing hunger crisis, the impacts of Covid-19 and internal displacement,” said Mukhier.