Millions of people in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are experiencing a drought of a length not experienced in the last 40 years, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) said Monday.
IGAD, which has an eight-country trade bloc in Africa, through its Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) said at a press briefing in the Kenyan capital Nairobi that as a whole, the East Africa region this year has recorded higher temperatures and less than normal rainfall.
“The MAM (March, April, May) rains are crucial for the region, and sadly, we are looking at not just three, but potentially four consecutive failed seasons,” said Workneh Gebeyehu, IGAD’s executive secretary.
“This coupled with other stress factors such as conflicts in both our region and Europe, the impact of COVID-19 and macro-economic challenges has led to acute levels of food insecurity across the Greater Horn of Africa,” he added.
According to IGAD, over 29 million people are facing high levels of food insecurity across the IGAD region.
Gebeyehu noted that already, 15.5 million to 16 million people in East Africa are in need of immediate food assistance due to the drought.
“This is 6 to 6.5 million in Ethiopia, 3.5 million in Kenya and 6 million in Somalia. In the southern-central part of Somalia, the situation is catastrophic, with 81,000 people at risk of famine,” he said.
The IGAD region includes governments from the Horn of Africa, Nile Valley and the African Great Lakes.
The severe shortages of water and pasture are leading to smaller food production, significant losses in livestock and wildlife, and a rise in resource-based conflicts in the East African region.
IGAD’s early warning systems and indicators show the situation will worsen in the East Africa region in the coming months.