The World Food Programme (WFP) has estimated that about 13 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are facing severe hunger during the first quarter of this year due to drought.

WFP’s Eastern Africa Regional Director Michael Dunford on Tuesday said the situation is as a result of three consecutive failed rainy seasons which have decimated crops and caused abnormally high livestock deaths. He said shortages of water and pasture are forcing families from their homes and leading to increased conflict between communities.

“Harvests are ruined, livestock are dying, and hunger is growing as recurrent droughts affect the Horn of Africa, the situation requires immediate humanitarian action and consistent support to build the resilience of communities for the future,”

In order to avert the looming hunger crisis, WFP has launched its Regional Drought Response Plan for the Horn of Africa, calling for 327 million US Dollars to respond to immediate needs of 4.5 million people over the next six months, and help communities become more resilient to extreme climate shocks.

In Kenya, the Government declared the drought a national emergency in September 2021 and an estimated 2.8 million people are in need of assistance. WFP aims to provide urgent food assistance to more than 890,000 people in the worst affected counties as well as scale up malnutrition treatment and prevention programmes for women and children. WFP will also extend microinsurance support for smallholder farmers.

In Ethiopia, an estimated 5.7 million people affected by severe drought need food assistance. WFP aims to support 2.9 million people with food relief in the Somali Region, 585,000 malnourished children and mothers with nutrition treatment, and 80,000 households with mothers or young children with preventative treatment against malnutrition.

In Somalia, the number of acutely food insecure people  is expected to increase from 3.5 to 4.6 million between February-May 2022 if humanitarian assistance is not received. WFP is aiming to scale up its food assistance to support an additional 600,000 people in the first half of this year, reaching a total of almost 2.5 million.

Edited By: Chepkosgei Jedidah