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Africa Drought

Kenyan pastoralists from the local Gabra community walk among carcasses of some of their sheep and goats on the outskirts of Kambi ya Nyoka in Marsabit County on January 29, 2022. (Photo: Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty Images)

13 Million People Facing Climate-Driven Starvation in Horn of Africa: WFP

"Many of them are children," said one United Nations official, "who are at even greater risk due to one of the worst climate-induced emergencies of the past 40 years."

Brett Wilkins

Severe drought driven by the climate emergency has pushed 13 million people in the Horn of Africa to the brink of starvation, the United Nations World Food Program reported Tuesday.

"We need to act now to prevent a catastrophe." 

Three straight failed rainy seasons in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia have "decimated crops and caused abnormally high livestock deaths," while "shortages of water and pasture are forcing families from their homes and triggering conflict between communities," according to the World Food Program (WFP). 

Of the 13 million people at risk of starving, "many of them are children, who are at even greater risk due to one of the worst climate-induced emergencies of the past 40 years," said Mohamed M. Fall, Eastern and Southern Africa regional director for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), U.N. News reports

Elamu, an Ethiopian mother of seven whose family is suffering from the drought, said that "the livestock we have are in danger. Our livelihood depends on them, so we are doing everything we can to keep them healthy. Every morning we lead our cattle to graze at a pasture far away, but even that area is drying up." 

Michael Dunford, WFP's regional director for Eastern Africa, warned that "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."

According to WFP: 

As needs across the Horn of Africa grow, immediate assistance is critical to avoid a major humanitarian crisis, like the one the world witnessed in 2011 when 250,000 people died of hunger in Somalia. This week WFP launches its Regional Drought Response Plan for the Horn of Africa, calling for $327 million 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.

Fall said that "the region cannot cope with yet another perfect storm" of the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and conflict. 

"The needs are massive and urgent, and they are quickly outpacing the available funds to respond," he added. "We need to act now to prevent a catastrophe." 

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