Late rains in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are inflaming hunger, warns WFP

The World Food Programme urgently needs US$437 million to respond and save lives in the Horn of Africa over the next six months....

The number of people pushed into hunger because of drought in the Horn of Africa could rise from the current 14 million to 20 million by the end of the year, the World Food Programme has warned. A month into the current rainy season and rains have so far failed to materialize; if they don't, this will be the fourth consecutive failed season as the region reels from food and fuel prices rising to unprecedented levels because of the war in Ukraine.

“We know from past experience that acting early to avert a humanitarian catastrophe is vital, yet our ability to launch the response has been limited due to a lack of funding to date,” said Michael Dunford, WFP’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa. “WFP and other humanitarian agencies have been warning the international community since last year that this drought could be disastrous if we didn’t act immediately, but funding has failed to materialize at the scale required.”

Time is fast running out for families who are struggling to survive in Somalia, where there is a risk of famine, according to WFP. Half a million Kenyans are one step away from catastrophic levels of hunger, and malnutrition rates in Ethiopia are well above emergency thresholds.

The cost of a food basket has already risen, particularly in Ethiopia (66 percent) and Somalia (36 percent) which depend heavily on wheat from Black Sea basin countries, and the disruption in imports further threatens food security. Shipping costs on some routes have doubled since January.

During the 2016-17 drought in the Horn of Africa, catastrophe was avoided through early action. Humanitarian assistance was scaled up before there was widespread hunger, saving lives and averting a devastating famine. This year, due to a severe lack of resourcing, there are growing fears that it won’t be possible to prevent the looming disaster – and millions will suffer as a result.

WFP last appealed for desperately needed funding in February yet less than 4 percent of what was needed was raised. Over the next six months, WFP needs US$473 million to scale up assistance and save lives across the three countries – Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

20 Nis 2022 - 12:35 - World

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