Millions in East Africa face extreme hunger - worst drought in decades
While the Western world is preoccupied with the rising cost of gas, inflation, and the war in Ukraine, East Africa is in crisis. UN News reports that Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan are facing the worst drought in decades.
Reliefweb points out that data indicates that the rainy season in the region between March-May of 2022 was most likely the driest on record.
Meteorologists say that the lack of rainfall and water has been exacerbated by very high temperatures, which are forecast to continue into September.
UN statistics show that over a million people have been displaced in Somalia and southern Ethiopia due to the climate crisis.
Crops have been destroyed by the lack of rain in Eastern Africa, and food costs have increased.
According to FNAU (Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit) it is estimated that 3.6 million livestock have died in Kenya and Ethiopia.
However, the organization points out that the worst hit country is Somalia where 1 of every 3 livestock have died since mid 2021.
According to the UN, in Somalia, 7 million people (nearly half the country's population) are at risk of famine in the next few months.
According to a new study by the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 50 million people in Eastern Africa are facing food insecurity this year.
Rescue.org reports that in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, over 14 million people are "on the verge of starvation," and roughly half of them are children.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns that if the drought continues, food prices increase and world leaders do not increase aid funding, by September 2022, the number is expected to rise to 20 million.
The region's Inter-Governmental Authority on Development issued the 'IGAD Regional Focus on Food Crises' report to sound the alarm on the malnutrition and food insecurity crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan.
The report stated that even if the best possible thing were to happen - it rained, it would still take the region months to recover.
IRC points out that the only option at the moment to prevent a "catastrophic death toll" is an immediate increase in humanitarian aid.
According to UN News, Chimimba David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, the area is in a desperate situation.
Phiri said: "The current food security situation across the Horn of Africa is dire after four consecutive rainy seasons have failed, a climatic event not seen in at least 40 years."
Phiri went on to speak about the urgent need to aid: "Now more than ever, we must implement short-term livelihood-saving responses with long-term resilience building aimed at addressing the root causes of food crises in our region."
Experts say that the main culprits of the situation in East Africa are climate change and La Niña, which have caused an unusual multi-season drought.
According to Michael Dunford, World Food Programme Regional Director for Eastern Africa: "Conflict, climate extremes, economic shocks, rising costs and now the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on food and energy prices are pushing millions towards starvation in Eastern Africa."
Dunford also states the importance of not only dealing with the current crisis but preparing for future problems.
Dunford believes that famines and droughts in the area are "increasingly inevitable because of a changing climate."