Kenya among countries with high acute food insecurity, Igad says

Situation is likely to worsen, Igad says

In Summary

• IGAD report indicates that 50 – 51 million people are facing high levels of acute food insecurity this year.

• This is a dramatic increase from 42 million people last year when the region accounted for nearly 22 per cent of global crsis.


Hunger-stricken of Kang'irisai await relief food in Turkana.
DROUGHT EFFECTS: Hunger-stricken of Kang'irisai await relief food in Turkana.
Image: FILE

More than 50 million people this year are expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity across seven Igad countries.

The countries affected include Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. This is according to the 2022 edition of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) Regional Focus on Food Crises released on Friday.

The report showed that Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan are facing the largest food crises in the region.

“The number of people affected in 2022 is 50 million to 51 million people and this is a dramatic increase from 2021 when 42 million people suffered from high levels of acute food insecurity,  the report read.

According to the National Drought Management Authority, four million Kenyans are facing starvation due to severe drought.

The National Drought Early Warning Bulletin for July shows that the drought situation continued to worsen in 20 ASAL counties.

“The number of counties in the alarm stage of drought has increased from five in May to eight in June. Counties in alarm drought phase are Mandera, Marsabit, Wajir, Laikipia, Tharaka Nithi, Turkana, Samburu and Isiolo.

Twelve counties including Garissa, Kajiado, Kitui, Makueni, Meru, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Nyeri, Embu, Turkana, Kwale and Kilifi are in alert drought phase,” DMA said

The authority attributed this to the poor performance of the 2021 short rains coupled with previous two failed consecutive seasons and early cessation of the 2022 long rains season.

Workneh Gebeyehu, Igad executive secretary, said the region has been hit like never before, and the combination of climate extremes, conflict, and macroeconomic challenges makes it almost impossible for resilient communities to sustain multiple shocks.

“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 rainy season is bleak,” Gebeyebu said.

 “The current food security situation across the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia) is dire after four consecutive rainy seasons have 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,” FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Afric Chimimba David Phiri said.

Michael Dunford, the World Food Programme’s regional director for Eastern Africa, said conflict, climate extremes, economic shocks, rising costs 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," Dunford said.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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