At least 7 million livestock have died across drought-affected Horn of Africa (HOA) countries, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has disclosed.
“At least 7 million livestock, which pastoralist families rely upon for sustenance and livelihoods, have died across the region,” the UNOCHA said in its latest humanitarian update for the Horn of Africa issued late Tuesday.
As the impact of the ongoing drought on the region’s livestock numbers mounted with the worsening emergency situation, more than 1.5 million livestock in Kenya, between 2.1 million and 2.5 million in southern and south-eastern Ethiopia, as well as 3 million more in Somalia have died, according to figures from the UNOCHA.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had recently warned that the drought-induced livestock deaths are consequently affecting children’s development as they have less access to milk, eventually negatively affecting their nutrition.
It said malnutrition rates are rising across the three affected countries, in which more than 7.1 million children are currently acutely malnourished, including about 2 million children who are severely acutely malnourished.
The UNOCHA also warned that the situation could further deteriorate as forecasts indicate that the October-December 2022 rainy season could also fail, leading to “an unprecedented and catastrophic situation, the likes of which has not been witnessed in the Horn of Africa in recent history.”
Amid the continued drought conditions, communities in the region are facing the threat of starvation following four consecutive failed rainy seasons in parts of — a climatic event not seen in at least 40 years.
The UNOCHA said at least 18.6 million people are already experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity and rising malnutrition across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. This figure could increase to 20 million by September.
Amid the worsening drought, more than 11.6 million people cannot access enough water for drinking, cooking and cleaning across the region, including 4.4 million in Ethiopia, 3.9 million in Somalia, and 3.3 million in Kenya, according to the UNOCHA.
While resilience-building efforts across the region have made important progress, the UNOCHA stressed that the frequency and severity of droughts in recent years, combined with the exceptionally prolonged nature of the 2020-2022 drought, have made it harder for families to recover between shocks.
The existing water deficits have been exacerbated by very high temperatures, which are forecasted to continue from June to September 2022.