Over 50 million people are in danger of experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity this year across seven Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries in the Horn of Africa.
The affected states include Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.
According to the 2022 edition of the IGAD Regional Focus on Food Crises under the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan are facing the largest food crises (IPC 3) in the region and about 300,000 people are projected to face catastrophe (IPC 5) in Somalia and South Sudan in 2022.
There is a risk of famine occurring in eight areas of Somalia through September in the event of widespread crop and livestock production failures, spiraling food costs, and in the absence of scaled-up humanitarian assistance.
In a virtual meeting by IGAD, it emerged the situation in 2022, with 50 – 51 million people expected to face crises or worse marks a dramatic increase from 2021 when 42 million people suffered from high levels of acute food insecurity.
Workneh Gebeyehu, Executive Secretary of the IGAD said the combination of climate extremes, conflict, and macroeconomic challenges make it almost impossible for the otherwise very resilient communities to sustain multiple shocks.
“Our region has been hit like never before and the figures we are releasing today are heartbreaking, and I’m very worried they could increase even more as the outlook for the October to December rain season is bleak,” he said.
Last year, the IGAD region accounted for nearly 22 percent of the global number of people in crisis or worse with an estimated 10 million children under the age of 5 suffering from acute malnutrition.
In addition, 24 per cent of the world’s 51 million internally displaced people were also in IGAD countries, mainly Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan.
Dr Chimimba David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa and FAO Representative to the African Union and UNECA said that the current food security situation across the Horn of Africa is dire after four consecutive rain seasons failed, a climatic event not seen in at least 40 years, or since the beginning of the satellite era.
“Now more than ever, we must implement short-term livelihood-saving responses with long-term resilience building aimed at addressing the root causes of food crises in our region,”Phiri noted.
The latest forecast by IGAD’s Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) is for a fifth consecutive failed rain season across the region, with the latest long-term forecasts for the 2022 October–December rainfall season indicating an increased chance of below-average rains.
Michael Dunford, the World Food Programme’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa said that the conflict, climate extremes, economic shocks, rising costs of commodities and now the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on food and energy prices are pushing millions towards starvation in Eastern Africa.
“Sadly, there is a very real risk of famine in the region, and we must do everything possible to prevent this from happening. At the same time, together we must start building the capacity to prepare and respond to future shocks which are increasingly inevitable because of a changing climate,” he added
The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a set of standardised tools used to classify the severity of food insecurity using a widely accepted five-phase scale namely Minimal (IPC Phase 1), Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Crisis (IPC Phase 3), Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe/Famine (IPC Phase 5).
ICPAC provides climate services to IGAD member states (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda), plus Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
Source: Nam News Network