The Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years. At least 18 million people are facing extreme hunger.
Hunger affects 4 million people in Kenya, which is in the midst of an election campaign before a high-stakes presidential election on August 9. In the big cities, people have threatened to boycott the elections with cries of “no food, no elections” if the prices of essential goods (foodstuffs, petrol, etc.) do not fall.
In the northern desert regions, nearly 950,000 children under the age of five and 134,000 pregnant and lactating women are acutely malnourished, according to official figures from June.
Even without drought, water is limiting both economic and social development in most countries in the region. Indeed, many country reports focus on coping with acute water scarcity rather than drought. In general, they report that rainfall and surface water resources are scarce, variable, and unreliable. Both renewable and fossil groundwater resources are being over-exploited at an increasing rate. Water pollution, resulting from urbanization and poor land practices are reducing the availability of good quality water. Drought just adds to the burden that all these countries face
In this part of Kenya people live and die by the animals they raise. Livestock like cattle and sheep become food for the family. They are also sold to pay for things like grain, school fees and household supplies. One million animals died from the drought so far
Northern Kenya has not seen a drop of rain in three years. In this dusty desert, there are only wild berries to eat.
In Ethiopia, an estimated 5.7 million people affected by severe drought need food assistance. The drought has put their livestock in danger, their bread and butter, so they are doing everything they can to keep them healthy in this difficult situation. It is a large number of needy people in the Horn of Africa 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.
Food aid was provided for 2.9 million people in the Somali Region, providing 585,000 malnourished children and mothers with nutrition treatment; and preventive malnutrition treatment for 80,000 households with mothers or young children.
It is also continuing its livelihoods, resilience and food systems programmes to protect recent development gains and strengthen vulnerable Somalis against droughts and other crises in the long term.
Meanwhile in September, the Government of Kenya declared the drought a national emergency as an estimated 2.8 million people scrambled for assistance.
More than 890,000 people in the worst affected counties for urgent food assistance, and scaled up malnutrition treatment and prevention programmes for women and children.
The situation requires immediate humanitarian action and consistent support to build the resilience of communities for the future.
Already hit by the coronavirus pandemic, East Africa’s largest economy will see its recovery hampered by drought, compounded by the impact of the war in Ukraine, the World Bank warned last month.
Yet drought is barely on the candidates’ agenda, overshadowed by the problems of living costs.
Animal carcasses litter the rocky expanses around Purapul, where pastoralist families struggle to survive without milk, meat, or currency for food.
The village is isolated and, as is often the case in these forgotten northern regions, there is no school, no road, no store, no clinic. The nearest town, Loiyangalani, is 60 kilometers away.
Despite its historic magnitude, this drought – which could continue into 2023 if predictions of an upcoming failed rainy season hold true – is also not attracting the attention of the international community.