WASHINGTON, March 8, 2017—World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim today issued the following statement on the devastating levels of food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa and Yemen:
“Famine is a stain on our collective conscience. Millions of lives are at risk and more will die if we do not act quickly and decisively.
We at the World Bank Group stand in solidarity with the people now threatened by famine. We are mobilizing an immediate response for Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. Our first priority is to work with partners to make sure that families have access to food and water. We are working toward a financial package of more than $1.6 billion to build social protection systems, strengthen community resilience, and maintain service delivery to the most vulnerable. This includes existing operations of over $870 million that will help communities threatened by famine. I am also working with our Board of Directors to secure the approval of new operations amounting to $770 million, funded substantially through IDA’s Crisis Response Window.
The World Bank Group will help respond to the immediate needs of the current famine, but we must recognize that famine will have lasting impacts on people’s health, ability to learn, and earn a living. So we will also continue to work with communities to reclaim their livelihoods and build resilience to future shocks.
We are coordinating closely with the UN and other partners in all areas of our response. We know that resolution to this acute crisis will not be possible without all humanitarian and development actors working together. We call on the international community to respond robustly and quickly to the UN global appeal for resources for the famine.
To prevent crises in the future, we must invest in addressing the root causes and drivers of fragility today and help countries build institutional and societal resilience.”
A famine means that a significant part of the population has no access to basic food, suffers from severe malnutrition, and death from hunger reaches unprecedented levels. Children under five are disproportionately affected. A famine can affect the well-being of a whole generation. Famine was officially declared on February 20 in South Sudan, impacting approximately 100,000 people, and there is a credible risk of other famines in Yemen, Northeast Nigeria, and other countries. Ongoing conflicts and civil insecurity are further intensifying the food insecurity of millions of people across the region, and there is already widespread displacement and other cross-border spillovers. For instance, food insecurity in Somalia and famine in South Sudan are accelerating the flow of refugees into Ethiopia and Uganda. The UN estimates that about 20 million people in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen are on the “tipping point” of famine. Drought conditions also extend to Uganda and parts of Tanzania. The last famine was declared in 2011 in Somalia during which 260,000 people died.
The Drought Situation
The Horn of Africa is in the midst of a major drought resulting from La Niña and reduced moisture influx due to the cooling of the ocean water in the east African coast. Whilst Member States of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are adept at managing droughts, what makes the current drought alarming in the Equatorial Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) region is that it follows two consecutive poor rainfall seasons in 2016 and the likelihood of depressed rainfall persisting into the March – May 2017 rainfall season remains high. The most affected areas include, most of Somalia, South-eastern Ethiopia, Northern Eastern and coastal Kenya, and Northern Uganda.
The climate predictions and early warnings produced by IGAD through advanced scientific modeling and prediction tools, which were provided to Member States and the general public, have elicited early actions (preparedness and mitigation measures). Highly comparable to the 2010 GHA drought, the current depressed rainfall and resultant poor vegetation conditions since March 2016 eroded the coping and adaptive capacities of the affected people. It also depleted water points, reduced crops, forages and livestock production, increased food insecurity, and adversely affected the livelihoods of vulnerable communities in the region.
The number of food insecure human population in the region is currently estimated at 17 million. Certain areas in South Sudan and Djibouti are already under an emergency food insecurity phase, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) classification scale. In Somalia, the number of food insecure people doubled in the last year alone.
In the drought affected cropping lands (over Deyr area in Somalia and coastal Kenya), 70 to 100 percent crop failure has been registered. Livestock mortality has been particularly devastating amongst small ruminants with mortality rate ranging from 25 to 75 percent in the cross border areas of Somalia-Kenya-Ethiopia. In addition, livestock prices have dropped by as much as 700 percent.
Terms of trade have declined in the region, with Ethiopia registering a figure of almost 10 percent. This is exacerbated by a substantial negative impact on external balances, as well as a small impact on financial sector-soundness in the other countries. The overall impact on fiscal positions is a likely increase in current budget spending and deterioration in the fiscal balance and weak adaptation capacity.
Despite the downtrend in global agriculture commodity prices, the drought has resulted in an increase in domestic food prices in the region. Cereal prices (e.g. maize) have gone up by about 130 percent, while those of critical food items such as oils, beans and wheat flour increased by at least 50 percent in some pastoralist areas. The limited financial and institutional capacity for effective adaptation to reduce exposure and vulnerability will result in limited safety net to the most vulnerable households.
Drought Response in the Horn of Africa
With the early warning and technical assistance provided by IGAD, Member States have initiated early action to mitigate the adverse impact of the current drought.
Somalia and South Sudan have declared drought emergencies. Kenya announced a doubling of expenditure on food relief to ease the pressure in the drought-affected counties, while Uganda shifted some of its development resources to finance emergency response in order to address food insecurity and livelihood protection. In Somalia, the President of the Federal Republic, as well as state and regional administrations led the issuance of appeals for support and coordinated actors and efforts that scaled-up food security activities to respond to the humanitarian needs of the country.
The USD 730 million allocated by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia boosted the response effort which, coupled by an above-average meher harvest, resulted to an almost 50 percent reduction in the number of food insecure people, for example, from 10.2 million to 5.6 million.
IGAD continues to reinforce the actions of its Member States using them as guide for complementary action on drought responses. Below are some of the major actions being undertaken by the IGAD Secretariat and its specialized institutions to manage the drought in the region:
Through the IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI) Platform, the ultimate purpose and objective of IGAD and its Member States is to mitigate the adverse effects of disasters through building resilience of relevant national institutions, communities and people, to end drought emergencies and contribute to the achievement of sustainable development in the region.
In this regard, IGAD will remain vigilant in monitoring and advising the people of the region on the drought situation through its’ specialized institution, the IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) domiciled in Nairobi, and shall continue to support and complement regional and national actions on drought response and recovery.
Agricultural support critical now to protect livestock, equip families to plant in rainy season.
ROME, Italy, December 20, 2016 – Countries in the Horn of Africa are likely to see a rise in hunger and further decline of local livelihoods in the coming months, as farming families struggle with the knock-on effects of multiple droughts that hit the region this year, FAO warned today. Growing numbers of refugees in East Africa, meanwhile, are expected to place even more burden on already strained food and nutrition security.
Currently, close to 12 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are in need of food assistance, as families in the region face limited access to food and income, together with rising debt, low cereal and seed stocks, and low milk and meat production. Terms of trade are particularly bad for livestock farmers, as food prices are increasing at the same time that market prices for livestock are low.
Farmers in the region need urgent support to recover from consecutive lost harvests and to keep their breeding livestock healthy and productive at a time that pastures are the driest in years. Production outputs in the three countries are grim.
“We’re dealing with a cyclical phenomenon in the Horn of Africa,” said Dominique Burgeon, Director of FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division. “But we also know from experience that timely support to farming families can significantly boost their ability to withstand the impacts of these droughts and soften the blow to their livelihoods,” he stressed.
For this reason, FAO has already begun disbursing emergency funds for rapid interventions in Kenya and Somalia.
The funds will support emergency feed and vaccinations for breeding and weak animals, repairs of water points, and seeds and tools to plant in the spring season. FAO is also working with local officials to bolster countries’ emergency preparedness across the region.
“Especially in those areas where we know natural hazards are recurring, working with the Government to further build-up their ability to mitigate future shocks is a smart intervention that can significantly reduce the need for humanitarian and food aid further down the line,” Burgeon said.
Kenya is highly likely to see another drought in early 2017, and with it a rise in food insecurity. Current estimates show some 1.3 million people are food insecure.
Based on the latest predictions, the impacts of the current drought in the southern part of the country will lessen by mid-2017, but counties in the North – in particular Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir and Mandera – will steadily get worse.
Families in these areas are heavily dependent on livestock. Now, with their livelihoods already stressed – the last reliable rain they received was in December 2015- they will get little relief from the October-December short rains, which typically mark a recovery period but once again fell short this season.
In the affected counties, the terms of trade have become increasingly unfavourable for livestock keepers, as prices of staple foods are rising, while a flood of weakened sheep, goats and cows onto local markets has brought down livestock prices.
To ensure livestock markets remain functional throughout the dry season in 2017, FAO, is training local officials in better managing livestock markets — in addition to providing feed, water and veterinary support.
After two poor rainy seasons this year, Somalia is in a countrywide state of drought emergency, ranging from moderate to extreme. As a result, the Gu cereal harvest – from April to June – was 50 percent below average, and prospects for the October-December Deyr season are very grim.
To make matters worse, the country’s driest season – the Jilaal that begins in January- is expected to be even harsher than usual, which means Somali famers are unlikely to get a break anytime soon.
All indications are that crop farmers are already facing a second consecutive season with poor harvest. Pastoralists, meanwhile, are struggling to provide food for both their families and livestock, as pasture and water for grazing their animals are becoming poorer and scarcer by the day – in the south, pasture availability is the lowest it has been in the past five years.
Some five million Somalis are food insecure through December 2016. This includes 1.1 million people in Crisis and Emergency conditions of food insecurity (Phases 3 and 4 on the five-tier IPC scale used by humanitarian agencies). This is a 20 percent increase in just six months.
The latest analysis forecasts that the number of people in Crisis and Emergency conditions of food insecurity may further rise by more than a quarter of a million people between February and May 2017. Similar conditions in 2011 have resulted in famine and loss of lives, and therefore early action is urgently needed to avoid a repeat.
FAO calls on resource partners to urgently scale up assistance in rural areas, in the form of cash relief, emergency livestock support and agricultural inputs to plant in the April Gu season.
If farmers cannot plant during Gu – which traditionally produces 60 percent of the country’s annual cereal output — they will be left without another major harvest until 2018.
Farming families in Ethiopia, meanwhile, are extremely vulnerable as they have not been able to recover from the 2015 El Nino-induced drought. Some 5.6 million people remain food insecure, while millions more depend on livestock herds that need to be protected and treated to improve milk and meat production. Here, too, better access to feed and water is critical.
The crop situation is relatively stable after the country completed the most widespread emergency seed distribution in Ethiopia’s history. FAO and more than 25 NGOs and agencies reached 1.5 million households with drought-resistant seeds.
As a result of enabling farming families to grow their own food, the government and humanitarian community saved close to $1 billion in emergency aid, underlining that investing in farmers is not only the right thing to do but also the most cost-efficient.
FAO’s Early Warning early action work
Somalia and Kenya are among the first countries benefiting from FAO’s new Early Warning Early Action Fund (EWEA). The fund ensures quick activation of emergency plans when there is a high likelihood of a disaster that would affect agriculture and people’s food and nutrition security.
The fund will be part of a larger Early Warning Early Action System that tracks climate data and earth imaging to determine what areas are at risk of an imminent shock and will benefit from early intervention.
Persistent conflict in the region continues to contribute to high levels of needs
5 August 2016 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today that it is responding to a growing food security emergency causing malnutrition in children in both rural and urban areas of crisis-gripped South Sudan.
“The situation in South Sudan is catastrophic, and even more so for children,” UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac told a news briefing in Geneva, where he also pointed out that so far this year, the agency has treated 120,000 children under age five for severe malnutrition; a nearly 50 per cent increase over the same period in 2015.
Initially, UNICEF had been planning to provide support to 166,000 children in 2016, but that figure has been revised to more than 250,000, he added.
Seven out of the country’s 10 states have reached the malnutrition-rate-emergency threshold of 15 per cent, while in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, the malnutrition rate stands at 33 per cent, he explained.
UNICEF has also noted a sharp rise in malnutrition in South Sudan’s urban areas, including the capital, Juba, where the rates of children admitted for malnutrition to UNICEF-supported Al-Sabbah children’s hospitals were some 20 per cent higher in the first six months of 2016 than for the same period last year. The spokesperson cited the country’s inflation rate as one of the main reasons for the high increase, explaining that it made basic household staples too expensive for many families.
Mr. Boulierac stated that while UNICEF could not provide figures of children dying from starvation, “one quarter of a million children in South Sudan are facing severe malnutrition.”
According to the spokesperson, with a number of roads inaccessible, the ongoing conflict has further limited UNICEF’s ability to respond – leaving, in the most urgent cases, the more expensive option of air transport for delivering supplies.
Additionally, Mr. Boulierac stressed that “due to insecurity and the rainy season, UNICEF staff in South Sudan are unable to be fully mobile and deliver their goods and services.”
Mr. Boulierac said that of the $154.5 million UNICEF needs for South Sudan in 2016, the Fund had, to date, received only $52 million to assist with water and sanitation; child support services; nutrition; health; and education.
He indicated that more than 900,000 children have been displaced in the country, which – with 1.8 million children, or 51 per cent of school-age youngsters out of school – also had the highest proportion of out-of-school children in the world.
“An estimated 16,000 children had been recruited by armed groups, and there were concerns that the renewed violence would lead to a further expansion of that practice,” explained the spokesperson.
He also called attention to the fact that sexual violence and rape had been used as a weapon of war, saying “all the ingredients were there to be extremely concerned.”
Between 8 and 25 July, at least 72 civilian deaths and 217 cases of sexual violence had been documented in Juba alone.
The spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), William Spindler, added that the total number of South Sudanese refugees in the region stood at 917,418 – most of whom are sheltering in Uganda.
The recent fighting in South Sudan between rival forces – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and the SPLA in Opposition backing First Vice-President Riek Machar – erupted in and around Juba, on 7 July, close to the fifth anniversary of its independence.
The young country has faced ongoing challenges since a political face-off between the two leaders erupted into conflict in December 2013. The crisis has produced one of the world’s worst displacement situations with immense suffering for civilians.