Blog Post

Horn of Africa Continues to Face Acute Food Insecurity, Malnutrition, and Hunger

The Horn of Africa continues to face severe food insecurity, reduced livelihoods, and hunger-related deaths as a result of several years of drought and failed harvests, according to FEWS Net. The hardest hit regions include Somalia, Sudan, the arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya, and southern and southeastern Ethiopia. The situation has been further exacerbated in Sudan and Ethiopia by ongoing conflict.

Sudan is experiencing widespread IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) and 4 (Emergency) food insecurity, with reports of some Phase 5 (Catastrophe) hunger in West Darfur. More than three months of violence, combined with the peak of the lean season in July-August, has severely impacted households’ ability to engage in income-generating activities and access markets and other food sources. More than three million people have been displaced as a result of the conflict, putting pressure on host communities as well. Precipitation has been mixed throughout the country in recent months; combined with interruptions in planting and harvesting as a result of the conflict, the overall harvest in Sudan is expected to be well below average. Food prices have responded to both the expected production shortfalls and trade disruptions caused by the conflict, particularly in the western regions of the country. The prices of some staples, including sorghum and millet, are as much as 150 percent higher than July 2022 and as much as 500 percent higher than the five-year average in some areas.

 Drought and conflict in Ethiopia have driven IPC Phase 4 (Emergency) and Phase 5 (Catastrophe) food insecurity in several regions. Rainfall deficits throughout the country were as much as 40 percent above average in July. With the peak of the lean season in August, households saw even further reduced access to income and food; reductions in food aid during the same period have placed millions of people in danger of acute hunger and malnutrition. These conditions in the south and southeastern regions of the country are expected to continue until at least January. In July, average maize prices were more than 100 percent above the three-year average; high staple food prices are expected to peak in September but continue through the end of the year.

In Kenya, households have begun to recover from the impact of drought, but IPC Phase 3 outcomes are ongoing throughout the country. Livestock herd sizes remain below average, and high staple food prices continue to limit pastoralist households’ purchasing power and food access. FEWS Net reports that household food stocks in the country’s southeastern marginal agricultural zones will only last through September, rather than through December like they normally do; this means that households will remain reliant on food markets for longer than usual. In coastal livelihood zones, on the other hand, household income and food access is expected to increase as a result of above average crop production driven by good rains in July. The expected El Niño phenomenon is also expected to bring above average rains in October-December, which could further improve planted area and pastoral area; however, El Niño also brings with it the chance of increased flooding.

Recent harvests in Somalia have helped reduce food prices and improve households’ incomes and food access, with a subsequent reduction in food insecurity. These trends are expected to continue to improve through December due to forecasted above-average seasonal rains. However, FEWS Net highlights that Somalia continues to have a large population of displaced households following the past five years of drought; for these populations, and in coastal areas hit hardest by the drought, IPC Phase 3 and 4 outcomes will continue through the end of the year. Reductions in humanitarian aid will exacerbate these challenges, as will potential flooding and crop losses during the rainy season.