East Africa: Horn of Africa Facing Fresh Food Shortage

The Horn of Africa region is staring at food shortages after the delayed start of the long rains in some countries and below-average rainfall in others.

The UN and the government of Somalia have jointly declared drought in the country after officials determined that 80 percent of Somalia had received little rainfall. Usually, much of the Horn considers March to May as a planting season.

However, projections by the Famine Early Warnings Systems Network and the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent Societies indicate that the situation is likely to get worse as we get into May down to September if the weather situation does not change.

“In eastern Africa, worse outcomes are expected through May 2021 across much of the region (North East Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia — including the restive Tigray region) attributed to conflict and displacement, long term macroeconomic challenges, the economic impacts of Covid-19, multiple weather shocks and the desert locust upsurge,” the IFRC Food Insecurity and Hunger for Africa bulletin says.

A situational report by the Federal Government of Somalia and humanitarian partners said the country is experiencing moderate to severe drought and warned that the population there was on the “brink of human catastrophe.”

Somalia’s Humanitarian Response Plan requires $1.09 billion to assist about four million people, and more than three million who are in acute need.

In Somalia, drought is almost routine, appearing once in every two years. Since 1990, it has experienced more than 30 climate-related hazards including 12 droughts and 19 floods.

This is three times the number of climate-related hazards experienced between 1970 and 1990.

In Kenya, Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Peter Munya announced on April 14 that the country will not be facing an acute maize shortage at least until later in the year, saying “We will have a surplus of at least 11.8 million bags by the end of May.”

An assessment by the Kenya Food Security Steering Group in February puts the population at risk at over 1.4 million people who are in need of urgent life-saving support.

IFRC notes that in South Sudan, 60 per cent of the population (7.2 million people) are expected to face acute food insecurity between April and July.

“This includes 2.4 million in emergency situations and 108,000 people in catastrophic situations,” the federation states.