Number of people needing humanitarian assistance on the rise.
ROME, Italy, July 14, 2017 – Poor rains across East Africa have worsened hunger and left crops scorched, pastures dry and thousands of livestock dead – according to an alert released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The most affected areas, which received less than half of their normal seasonal rainfall, are central and southern Somalia, southeastern Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, northern Tanzania and northeastern and southwestern Uganda.
The alert issued by FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) warns that the third consecutive failed rainy season has seriously eroded families’ resilience, and urgent and effective livelihood support is required.
“This is the third season in a row that families have had to endure failed rains – they are simply running out of ways to cope,” said FAO’s Director of Emergencies Dominique Burgeon. “Support is needed now before the situation rapidly deteriorates further.”
Increasing humanitarian need
The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in the five aforementioned countries, currently estimated at about 16 million, has increased by about 30 percent since late 2016. In Somalia, almost half of the total population is food insecure. Timely humanitarian assistance has averted famine so far but must be sustained. Conditions across the region are expected to further deteriorate in the coming months with the onset of the dry season and an anticipated early start of the lean season.
The food security situation for pastoralists is of particular concern, in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, where animal mortality rates are high and milk production from the surviving animals has declined sharply with negative consequences on food security and nutrition.
“When we know how critical milk is for the healthy development of children aged under five, and the irreversible damage its lack can create, it is evident that supporting pastoralists going through this drought is essential,” said Burgeon.
Livestock prices have plummeted because of poor animal body conditions and this, coupled with soaring cereal prices, has severely constrained pastoralists’ access to food. Rangeland and livestock conditions are expected to further deteriorate at least until the next rainy season starts in October.
Poor crop prospects
In several cropping areas across the region, poor rains have caused sharp reductions in planting, and wilting of crops currently being harvested. Despite some late rainfall in May, damage to crops is irreversible.
In addition, fall armyworm, which has caused extensive damage to maize crops in southern Africa, has spread to the east and has worsened the situation. In Kenya, the pest has so far affected about 200 000 hectares of crops, and in Uganda more than half the country’s 111 districts are affected.
In Somalia there are unfavourable prospects for this year’s main gu crops, after the gu rains were late with poor rainfall and erratic distribution over most areas of the country. In the Lower Shabelle region, the main maize producing area, seasonal rainfall was about 50 percent below- average and drought conditions are currently affecting up to 85 percent of the cropland.
In Ethiopia, unfavourable belg rains in southern cropping areas are likely to result in localized cereal production shortfalls. Drought is also affecting yields in Kenya’s central, southeastern and coastal areas. In Tanzania, unfavourable rains are likely to result in localized cereal production shortfalls in northern and central areas, while in Uganda there are unfavourable production prospects are unfavourable for first season crops in the southwestern and northern districts.
Cereal prices are surging, driven by reduced supplies and concerns over the performance of current-season crops. Prices in May were at record to near-record levels in most markets and up to double their year-earlier levels.
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.