An estimated 23 million people in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan do not have enough to eat. A report released last week by the Climate Prediction and Applications Centre, a department of Intergovernmental Authority on Development, shows that Ethiopia’s southern Rift Valley lakes and surrounding regions, the semi-arid areas of Kenya, Uganda’s Karamoja, and northern and eastern Somalia experienced low rainfall in the last season and its residents are at the risk of starvation.
In these areas, drought and higher-than-usual temperatures are also affecting forage and water availability for people, livestock and wildlife: “Poor October-to-December rains, followed by abnormally high temperatures since January 2019, are leading to rapid deterioration of pastoral resources and have started affecting livelihoods. Dry conditions are persisting into March 2019.
“The tropical cyclone observed across the coast of Mozambique during the first and second weeks of March partially contributed to the current dry conditions,” said the report released on March 22.
While the tropical cyclone has mostly affected the southern African states of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, experts say the effects will be felt all the way to East Africa, where the start of long rains has been delayed to the end of March.
The dry conditions have a high likelihood of affecting maize, bananas and sorghum production in Uganda, one of the main food suppliers in the region.
The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, a tool for food security analysis and decision-making, also cited Karamoja in Uganda, northern and central Somalia and most of South Sudan as East African regions at the highest risk in terms of food security.
In most parts of the Horn, the October to December rains were 55 per cent less than normal. In northern Kenya, about 900,000 people thousands and livestock at risk of starvation as the dry season persists into the end of March.
The Kenya Food Security Outlook report released by Relief Web in mid-March puts maize production in the marginal agricultural areas at 55 per cent to 65 per cent below the five-year average. But experts have said that the problem with Kenya is not lack of food but poor government intervention.
Source: The East African