May 03, 2022
Millions of people across eastern Africa are facing a severe hunger crisis as an ongoing drought causes the driest conditions seen in decades and worsens widespread food shortages.
A drought of this magnitude has not been seen since 1981.
Anastasia Mbatia, Senior Technical Manager for Agriculture
A back-to-back drought has hit the Horn of Africa due to poor rainfall since October 2020, continuing with an acutely dry 2021 and according to international and regional forecasts, a below-average March to May 2022 rainy season.
Most arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya are forecast to receive only 60-75 percent of normal rainfall, with even deeper deficits of less than 60 percent of average rains predicted in pastoral areas of north-eastern Kenya.
The southern and eastern pastoral areas of Ethiopia, north and eastern parts of Kenya and a large part of south-central Somalia are the worse affected areas, with over 30 million people needing urgent humanitarian food assistance.
The deterioration in condition and deaths of many livestock, water shortages and record-low vegetation conditions are just some of the results of this devastating drought, which is leading to mass hunger, displacement and diverse economic shocks such as rising fuel prices, currency depreciation and inflation.
Despite recent enhanced rains over parts of Ethiopia, dryness is persisting, with other East African countries yet to receive any rainfall. As forecasts for the upcoming weeks indicate a continuation of drier conditions, food security will be extremely compromised until at least August and we are unlikely to see any positive impacts until much later in the year
In a region that has already endured flooding in early 2020, a desert locust invasion, the COVID-19 pandemic and conflict in northern Ethiopia, the current drought poses severe threats to weakened farming communities who call this region home.
Anastasia Mbatia, Senior Technical Manager for Agriculture at Farm Africa, said: “The crisis puts at risk communities who are still reeling from the extreme challenges thrown their way by the desert locust invasion, the pandemic and conflict.”
“Yet again, we are witnessing how the burden of climate change is borne the most by those globally who have done the least to contribute to it.”
The region is now also feeling the impact of the Russia Ukraine conflict through a spike in agricultural commodity prices.
Together, the Russian Federation and Ukraine produce 53 per cent of sunflower oil and seeds, and 27 per cent of wheat traded globally.[i] Countries in eastern Africa are particularly dependent on the import of food security foods: Kenya sources more than 40% of its wheat from the Russian Federation and Ukraine, while in Uganda the figure is more than 50% and in Tanzania it is over 60%.[ii]
Action is needed to avert threats to food security across eastern Africa.
How Farm Africa is helping
In the Borena zone in the Oromia National Regional State of Ethiopia, where the drought has dried up pasture and livestock are suffering from acute shortages of water and land, Farm Africa and SOS Sahel Ethiopia are on the ground delivering emergency supplies of animal forage, thanks to funding from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ethiopia, in the hope to save livestock.