- In Kenya, 5.4 million people were projected to be in hunger crisis or emergency situation in March–June 2023, the highest in the history of this regional focus.
- Weather extremes is still considered the primary driver of acute food insecurity in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda, where a total of 35.85 million people faced high levels of acute food insecurity.
Millions of Kenya will sleep hungry unless food is donated to them throughout this year, a new report suggests.
It says about 5.4 million Kenyans are already facing a food crisis.
This crisis can no longer be blamed on drought in places where food is available. However, millions cannot afford that food because of the record-high prices and lack of money.
The Dagoretti-Corner-based Igad Climate Prediction and Applications Centre therefore projects millions of people will need relief food regardless of the harvest from the current season or El nino rains in Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda throughout this year.
“Since 2021, Kenya and Somalia saw the biggest increases in the numbers of people facing high levels of acute food insecurity,” says Icpac in its Igad Regional Focus of the Global Report on Food Crises 2023 report.
In Kenya, 5.4 million people were projected to be in hunger crisis or emergency situation in March–June 2023, the highest in the history of this regional focus, due primarily to the continued impacts of the unprecedented drought and high food prices.
The report used the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification scale for acute food insecurity. The five-phase scale provides common standards for classifying the severity of acute food insecurity and global hunger with Kenya placed at level three or higher.
The report predicts up to 30 million people will require humanitarian food assistance in the five countries for which projections are available.
Of these, an estimated 7.5 million people in Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and the Sudan are projected to face large food consumption gaps and adopt emergency coping measures. More than 83,000 individuals are anticipated to face extreme lack of food in the most severe drought and conflict-affected areas of the region, particularly in Somalia and South Sudan.
Igad is a regional economic community and comprises eight member states; Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.
It is headquartered in Djibouti but Icpac, its weather prediction centre, is at Dagoretti-Corner in Nairobi.
It says despite the positive impact of the March–May 2023 rains in dry areas, recovery from the three-year drought will be slow given the magnitude of livelihood losses and population displacements—mainly in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
“During the June–September 2023 rainy season, an increased likelihood of below-average rainfall is forecast for most unimodal northern and western parts of the region— especially central and northeastern Ethiopia and parts of central and western South Sudan, as well as Djibouti, Eritrea, western Kenya, northern Uganda and the Sudan,” the report said.
The worsening situation is attributed to the compounding effects of multiple shocks, including an unprecedented three-year drought in the Horn of Africa, record-breaking flooding in South Sudan, protracted conflicts, and macroeconomic challenges driven by the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 and exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
“Hunger levels in our region are at an unprecedented high. This situation is inextricably linked to climate extremes and disasters, conflict and insecurity, and economic shocks, which are increasingly intertwined with spiralling negative consequences for tens of millions of children, men, and women,” IGAD Executive Secretary, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, said.
Weather extremes is still considered the primary driver of acute food insecurity in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda, where 35.85 million people faced high levels of acute food insecurity.
The message was echoed by FAO's subregional coordinator for Eastern Africa Dr Chimimba David Phiri, who said, “This report should serve as a wake-up call for us to take immediate and collective action to change our ways of working to address the root causes of food insecurity.”
He said the recent three-year drought across the horn of Africa highlights the urgent need to upscale and institutionalise anticipatory action and climate adaptation strategies to prevent, rather than just respond to, future climate emergencies.
“Meanwhile, food insecurity caused by conflicts and the knock-on effects of global economic shocks highlights the critical need for efforts that sustainably build peace, increase domestic production, and reduce post-harvest losses in the IGAD region,” he said.
The report says the situation is worse in many of Kenya's neighbours. In the Sudan, the impact of the ongoing conflict on food availability and access is expected to drive a rapid deterioration in the food security and nutrition situation, with Khartoum and the region of Darfur most affected.
By mid-May, more than one million people had fled their homes with around 843,000 people newly displaced internally and more than 250,000 people displaced to neighbouring countries.
“The conflict in Sudan is sending hunger shockwaves across an already fragile region, as hundreds of thousands of people continue fleeing to neighbouring countries, pushing up already alarming food insecurity and malnutrition levels, and further stretching scarce humanitarian resources,” said Rukia Yacoub, World Food Programme's deputy regional director for Eastern Africa.