The United Nations humanitarian agency on Monday appealed for urgent funding to help avert a humanitarian disaster that is looming in the Horn of Africa amid a severe drought.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) warned in its latest report issued in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, that lives will be lost if there is no more funding.
UNOCHA said the people in the Horn of Africa, who are suffering the worst drought in over 40 years, face the threat of starvation following four consecutive failed rainy seasons in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
“Forecasts indicate that the October-December 2022 rainy season could also fail, leading to an unprecedented catastrophe. Immediate action is required to prevent the worst in the months ahead,” UNOCHA warned in its latest report on drought.
The UN agency said at least 19.4 million people are affected by the drought that began in October 2020 across the region. It said some 18.6 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are living with acute food insecurity and rising malnutrition, warning that the number could rise to 20 million by September.
According to UNOCHA, food prices are increasing in many drought-affected areas due to the below-average harvests and rising prices on international markets.
Moreover, floods, COVID-19, and the desert locust infestation have affected communities throughout the region, and millions of people in Ethiopia and Somalia are living through conflict.
The report came barely a week after the UN and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc, said that more than 50 million people are expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity this year across seven east African countries — Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.
According to the 2022 edition of the IGAD Regional Focus on Food Crises, released on July 22 by the World Food Program (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and IGAD, conflict, climate extremes, economic shocks, rising costs and now the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on food and energy prices are pushing millions toward starvation in eastern Africa.