Worsening drought and conflict drives extreme food needs in Horn of Africa, warns IRC

Published: November 3, 2021

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is concerned that multiple seasons of drought plus ongoing conflict in parts of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan will likely result in extreme hunger in the coming months, similar to the drought of 2016.

Kurt Tjossem, IRC Regional Vice President for East Africa said:

“We’re extremely worried about the impact of continuing drought and conflict on vulnerable populations throughout the horn of Africa, where a large proportion of the population relies heavily on crops to eat and sell for their livelihoods. Due to the poor rainfall and low crop production in the last few months, 2.1 million people in Kenya alone including refugees from neighbouring countries will be facing extreme hunger in the next 6 months. In the Oromia region of Ethiopia for example, severe drought is exacerbating hunger needs amidst the largely agropastoral-reliant population and with funding diverted to the north of the country, means people are at risk of extreme hunger. Across Somalia, 3.5 million people are facing hunger due to a lack of harvest and farmers who depend on livestock are seeing animals dying from thirst on a daily basis. As seen from previous crises, early action is critical and reduces the impact of crises; we must act now.

“Interethnic and resource driven conflict also means that families who rely on agricultural productivity are not able to access the materials they need to harvest crops while aid organizations are often not able to reach populations in need due to access constraints.

“Compounding these issues is the rising fuel prices, currency depreciation and inflation which means ordinary households are not able to afford as much food as before. In Sudan for example, hunger needs are up to 60% higher than the last five year average due to inflation and the economic and current political crisis in the capital.  If drought, inflation and conflict continue unabated, parts of Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia will face emergency levels of hunger.”

Cessation of conflict and urgent funding is needed to avert catastrophic hunger needs across the Horn of Africa. The IRC calls on world leaders convening at COP26 to make urgent investments in climate resilience and famine prevention amongst the world’s most vulnerable, against the backdrop of urgent efforts to constrain global temperature rise under 1.5 degrees Celsius over the next decade. While the existential threat posed by global warming jeopardizes us all, it is spread unevenly. The communities that IRC serves are facing the sharp end of the climate crisis, facing emergency conditions with current levels of global warming. The IRC is working to support communities in need across the Horn of Africa with water, sanitation and hygiene, healthcare, livelihood and nutrition services.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Rescue Committee.

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