The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) are appealing for urgent action to mitigate the impact of drought across the Horn of Africa where food insecurity is getting dire.
The October-December 2021 rainy season has significantly delayed in the region, with little to no rainfall in many areas.
Worsening drought is expected to result in deterioration of agriculture and pastures, causing households already struggling with the effects of multiple and concurrent hazards — including climate variability, conflict, Covid-19 and desert locusts — to reduce their food consumption.
“Food insecurity in the region has historically increased sharply following consecutive poor rainfall seasons,” noted a joint statement by IGAD Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu and FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for Eastern Africa Chimimba David Phiri.
“As of October 2021, 26 million people in the region were already facing high levels of food insecurity, and due to the threat of worsening drought conditions, food insecurity will likely rise during the first half of 2022 across the Horn of Africa. Urgent action is therefore required now to safeguard livelihoods, save lives, and prevent worsening malnutrition,” the statement said.
Drought is affecting the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya, southern and central Somalia and southern and southeastern Ethiopia where consecutive poor rainfall seasons have driven below-average crop production, according to the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group. The result has been increasing cereal prices, poor rangelands, reduced livestock production and animal deaths.
Main farming season
The October to December rains cover the main farming season in Uganda, Kenya, northern Tanzania, southern and central Somalia, southern Ethiopia, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi and represent up to 70 percent of the total annual rainfall.
Igad’s Regional Climate Centre (ICPAC) reports that conditions over the region are expected to continue being dry until February.
“Moderate to severe drought conditions in the region, in particular over Uganda, south-western Ethiopia, eastern Kenya, southern Somalia, and Tanzania are expected,” says ICPAC.
The two organisations want crucial action taken to prevent more people from sliding into food and nutrition insecurity.
“To do this, we must support farmers and herders who are experiencing the impacts of poor harvests, depleted food and animal feedstock, and rising food prices,” they added.
More specifically, IGAD and FAO are calling for a scale-up of contributions to humanitarian response plans that currently remain grossly underfunded.
Of particular concern are the drier than usual conditions forecasted over the cross-border areas of Kenya and Somalia.
They note that through rapid, collaborative action by all actors, we can safeguard the lives and livelihoods of communities currently bearing the worsening effects of the drought, while at the same time, protecting households’ longer-term resilience.
But it has been a drier and warmer than usual season across Eastern Africa according to
For example, the 2011 famine in Somalia was preceded by two consecutive failed seasons while the 2017 drought emergency was the result of three to four below-average seasons.