A severe drought in the Horn of Africa—which includes Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti—is affecting almost nine million people, causing widespread hunger in the region while stripping local farmers of their livelihood, the United Nations’ World Food Program announced Wednesday.
This drought, caused by lower than expected rainfall in the region between April and June, has launched a humanitarian crisis that is further exacerbated by rising food prices and conflict, the statement said. The problem is expected to worsen in the coming weeks, the announcement said, and needs global attention.
“A slowly evolving regional hunger crisis may not have the immediate impact of a mega-emergency like the Haitian earthquake, or Pakistan floods,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. “But the drought and rising malnutrition in the Horn affects more people and its effects are equally devastating.”
More money for food aid is needed, especially in Somalia and Ethiopia, as both nations have seen a drop in donor funds.
“Resources are thin and at the very moment that we should be ramping up operations, we have been scaling back,” Sheeran said in the statement.
In addition, violence in Somalia has sent tens of thousands of refugees to camps in Kenya, another nation also struggling with drought. The nation’s camps have seen an uptick this year in the number of malnourished children needing treatment.
For its part, the WFP hopes to reach six million people, primarily in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, with emergency food assistance. In addition to dispersing food aid, the group is working hard to help local farmers by protecting the tools and livestock they need to make a living.
“It is essential that we move quickly to break the destructive cycle of drought and hunger that forces farmers to sell their means of production as part of their survival strategy,” said Sheeran.
Read more about the World Food Programs response to the food crisis here.
(Photo: AP Photo)