Nairobi, Kenya, January 31, 2022 — The IRC is extremely concerned by the continued drought across the horn of Africa over the last few months. Consecutive seasons without adequate rainfall is driving massive humanitarian need as people in agro pastoral communities struggle to cultivate crops and keep livestock alive to eat and sell. The IRC is calling for immediate and urgent scale up of humanitarian assistance to avert a humanitarian catastrophe affecting at least 25 million people in the horn of Africa in the small window of the coming few months.
Kurt Tjossem, East Africa Regional Director for IRC said,
“We are alarmed at the number of people that have been and will continue to be affected by the persistent droughts across East Africa. In areas where people depend on cultivation of crops and livestock, thousands are becoming displaced as they move to find new pastures or sources of income and food. In Somalia, without a scale up of humanitarian assistance almost 30% of the population; more than 4 million people, could have acute food shortages due to lack of crops and livelihoods by May of this year and more than 1 million people are estimated to be displaced due to the drought. Already, cereal prices have shot up to levels we saw during the famine in the region in 2011 where approximately 260,000 people died.
“In Kenya, a similar situation has led to the President declaring a state of national disaster with almost 3 million people on the brink of starvation as the drought persists in areas where people are heavily dependent on agricultural productivity. There are visible signs of drought in the most affected areas, including dry land and dead cattle. Communal conflicts have also increased in Kenya as the competition for livestock, water and grassland increases.
“In Ethiopia, the driest conditions seen in over 40 years, in addition to persistent conflict, is compounding the already precarious humanitarian situation. Malnutrition cases in Ethiopia have doubled during this drought season and diarrheal cases are being reported amongst children under 5. Across the country, almost 26 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, making it the second largest humanitarian crisis in the world.
Somalia and Ethiopia are two of the four countries in East Africa that feature in the top ten of the IRC’s Emergency Watchlist 2022, our list of the 20 countries most at risk of humanitarian emergency this year. The East Africa region is emblematic of the “System Failure” we warn about in the Watchlist, whereby states and the international community are failing to confront the global challenges of conflict, climate change and COVID-19 and are instead allowing record numbers of people to fall into humanitarian need. The IRC urges global leaders and donors to contribute to the scale up of humanitarian assistance to build resilience to climate change and prepare for further drought.
We have been responding to the drought in Ethiopia’s Somali & Oromia region and in Kenya and Somalia, providing essential services such as nutrition, water and cash assistance to affected populations. We are now in need of urgent and immediate additional funding to be able to scale up our response to meet the ever increasing need.”