More than half a million people are going hungry in Karamoja, some 40 percent of the population of this neglected, long-suffering rural region between South Sudan and Kenya.

People in a region including Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya face the driest conditions recorded since 1981, the agency reported Tuesday, calling for immediate assistance to forestall a major humanitarian crisis.

Drought conditions are affecting pastoral and farming communities across southern and south-eastern Ethiopia, south-eastern and northern Kenya, and south-central Somalia. Malnutrition rates are high in the region.

As food has become ever more scarce, Karamoja’s most vulnerable residents are struggling to survive.

Three consecutive failed rainy seasons have decimated crops and caused abnormally high livestock deaths,” it said in a statement. “Shortages of water and pasture are forcing families from their homes and leading to increased conflict between communities.”

More forecasts of below-average rainfall threaten to worsen conditions in the coming months, it said. Drought conditions are affecting pastoral and farming communities across southern and south-eastern Ethiopia, south-eastern and northern Kenya, and south-central Somalia. Malnutrition rates are high in the region.

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