Horn of Africa, an extraordinary drought

The subject is recurrent, the alarms follow one another, the situation continues to worsen in a cold international silence. Three East African countries are once again exposed to extraordinary drought: Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. It would even be the worst drought since 1981, according to the UN.

“Although the Horn of Africa has experienced climate-induced crises for decades, the impact of the current drought on the region’s arid and semi-arid lands has been particularly severe,” alarmed the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on April 8.

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An example, Somalia. On March 28, Adam Abdelmoula, the UN humanitarian coordinator for this country, explained: “The country has experienced three consecutive failed rainy seasons. The fourth, which is supposed to start in April and run through June, is also expected to be below average. »

Pastures and water points are drying up

Three weeks later, the rainfall is not likely to reverse this trend. Result ? Pastures and water points are drying up across the region. “Pastoral and rural communities whose livelihoods depend on natural resources are witnessing the death of their livestock and the loss of their livelihoods, observe IOM. Thousands of hectares of crops were destroyed and in Kenya alone 1.4 million head of cattle died in the latter part of last year due to drought. »

→ EXPLANATION. Climate change in Africa, a worrying state of play

In Somalia, laments Adam Abdelmoula, the situation has deteriorated, with the current drought wiping out crops and dying livestock from lack of water and pasture, depriving many pastoral communities of their only source of income. »

Millions at risk of starvation

Specifically, the UN estimates that 15 million people are severely affected by drought in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia – around 3.5 and 7 million people in each country, respectively». It is a population – especially children – exposed to famine and malnutrition, and who live in regions where the factors of poverty are multiple: isolation, community conflicts, massive attacks of locusts and negative socio-economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This multifactorial crisis is leading to more and more population movements towards water points and less exposed regions.

The war in Ukraine, an aggravating factor

Everything is in place for this situation to continue and worsen over the years. Especially since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia further weakens these populations by affecting the prices of certain foodstuffs. According to the World Food Program (WFP), the war in Ukraine could provoke in the world a wave of collateral hunger by further exacerbating existing problems, such as record high food prices”.

However, this silent crisis fails to mobilize public opinion and major donors. At present, the UN appeal has mobilized 2.3%: to meet the needs of Somalia alone in 2022, 1.46 billion dollars (1.23 billion euros) have been filled.

If this major food crisis is spectacular in East Africa, it does not spare the rest of the continent. The International Committee of the Red Cross has estimated that 346 million Africans suffer from hunger. “alarming” : i.e., in total, more than one in four people.


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