NE Africa drought threatens to be worst in 40 years: UN

UNITED NATIONS— The northeast Africa drought threatens to be one of the worst climate-induced emergencies in the area in the last 40 years, UN humanitarians said.

“People in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have endured three consecutive poor rainy seasons,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. “The latest forecasts indicate that the March to May rains may be average to below-average.”

If the rains are scarce, the drought risks becoming one of the worst climate-induced emergencies in the last 40 years in the Horn of Africa, with millions of people facing severe water shortages and going hungry due to the devastating drought in the region, the office said.

OCHA said dry water sources across the region force people to walk long distances to find water. Conflict over scarce resources increases the risk of violence and abuse against children and women.

The office said because of water scarcity, food insecurity is at a record high. Between 13.1 million and 14.1 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia struggle to put food on the table every day.

“The prolonged drought will leave more than 5.7 million children acutely malnourished in these three countries in 2022, 1.7 million of them severely acutely malnourished,” the office said. “Humanitarian partners are scaling up the response and have assisted 1.6 million people in Somalia, over 2.7 million people in Ethiopia and more than 830,000 people in Kenya.”

The office and its humanitarian partners seek 4.4 billion U.S. dollars to provide life-saving assistance and protection to about 30 million people in the three countries this year, but funding is meager.

OCHA urgently calls on the international community to step up support to organizations responding to the drought across the Horn of Africa.