Blog Post

Urgent Aid Needed in Horn of Africa As Famine Threat Grows

The Horn of Africa is facing a fifth consecutive season of severe drought, with extreme dry conditions expected to extend through May 2023, according to a new alert released by FEWS Net. The situation has significantly increased the likelihood of famine in the region, and global action is needed urgently to address the growing humanitarian crisis.

Across Kenya and Somalia, an estimated 3.4 million people are already facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity, while areas of southern Ethiopia and over 300,000 people in Somalia are experiencing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) food insecurity. Additional parts of Somalia have already reached famine-level food insecurity, with other areas expected to face famine by the end of 2022.

A September alert placed the number of people in Somalia needing urgent assistance to prevent acute malnutrition and hunger-related deaths at over 7 million. Many of these people are located in areas plagued by conflict and high food prices in addition to poor weather conditions. In Somalia’s Bay Region, the price of sorghum, a staple crop in local diets, has risen by more than 200 percent from average levels, driven by weather-related crop failures, reduced supplies from trade partners, and global price volatility stemming from the Russia-Ukraine war. FEWS Net reports that sorghum prices in the region have exceeded those seen during the 2011-2012 famine, which killed over 250,000 people.

The latest FEWS Net report states that Kenya and southern Somalia are anticipated to see October-December rainfall less than 60 percent of average, with the March-May rainy season also expected to be significantly below-average. Even if March-May rains do exceed forecasts, the report emphasizes that the previous five seasons of drought will take years to recover from. Thus, people in the region will need to rely on assistance for basic needs such as food, clean water, health programs, and livelihoods.