55m more people food-insecure in IGAD region

Latest report prompted calls for action to alleviate the suffering

In Summary

• The worsening situation is attributed to the compounding effects of multiple shocks

• Food crises are forecast to escalate in 2023, particularly in Kenya and Somalia

ICPAC director Dr Guleid Artan during the release of the Food Security Report 2023 yesterday
ICPAC director Dr Guleid Artan during the release of the Food Security Report 2023 yesterday

A new report has shown an alarming 55.45 million people across seven out of the eight IGAD member states need urgent food assistance. 

IGAD is a regional economic community forming one of the building blocks of the African Union and is comprised of eight Member States.

The states are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

The latest IGAD Regional Focus of the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) 2023 was launched yesterday at Hermosa Hotel, Nairobi.

It shows that the population facing acute food insecurity in the IGAD Member States has rapidly increased since 2020, by more than 10 million additional people each year.

The worsening situation is attributed to the compounding effects of multiple shocks.

These include an unprecedented three-year drought in the Horn of Africa, record-breaking flooding in South Sudan and protracted conflicts.

There are also macroeconomic challenges driven by the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 and exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

The report is a by-product of the annual GRFC produced by the Food Security Information Network in support of the Global Network Against Food Crises.

The report says the number of people affected last year is the highest number of acutely food-insecure people in the region over the past five years.

It says the number of people facing a crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3 or above) from October –December 2022 in Kenya was almost 90 per cent higher than in the last quarter of 2021 in the arid and semi-arid lands.

The report says this accounts for 80 per cent of the country’s land mass and 27 per cent of its population.

At 4.4 million, this was the highest in the history of IPC analyses in the country.

The report says the number of people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) has increased nearly fourfold since 2021, from 368,000 to 1.2 million.

“The worst-affected counties were Isiolo, Mandera, Marsabit and Turkana, all of which were classified in IPC Phase 4,” it says.

The report attributes the worsening situation is attributed to the cumulative effect of five consecutive poor rainy seasons (March–May long and October–December short rains).

The report says 661,800 children under five had moderate wasting by July-October 2022 in Kenya.

Another 884,500 were wasted, while 222,700 were severely wasted.

Some 115,700 pregnant and lactating women were acutely malnourished in 2022.

The report says Kenya had 4.35 million people affected, Ethiopia (23.61 million), Somalia (5.59 million), South Sudan (7.74 million), Sudan (11.65 million) and Uganda (2.3 million) in 2022.

Amos Nyakeyo, the acting deputy director of the National Drought Management Authority, said in Kenya, there is a need for adequate resources to counter the challenge.

“The NDMA fund has been established by the government, but we do not have adequate resources,” he said.

Nyakeyo said communities should be involved while searching for solutions.

The report highlights the devastating reality faced by 301,000 people who experienced Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in 2022, with Somalia and South Sudan accounting for 214,000 people and 87,000 people respectively.

The report shows that 11.53 million children under 5 years were estimated to be affected by wasting in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda.

“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,” IGAD executive secretary Dr Workneh Gebeyehu wrote in the report’s foreword.

“These are increasingly intertwined with spiralling negative consequences for tens of millions of children, men and women.”

The report shows that 11.7 million people were IDPs in five countries in the region.


The report projects a grim picture for 2023.

 The report warns that up to 30 million people are expected to require humanitarian food assistance in five countries for which projections are available: Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

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 (Emergency, IPC Phase 4).

The report says more than 83,000 individuals are anticipated to face an extreme food lack of food (Catastrophe, IPC Phase 5) in the most severe drought and conflict-affected areas of the region, particularly in Somalia and South Sudan.

The projections don’t account for the recent clashes in the Sudan, which will exacerbate the poor food insecurity.

 The report says the March-May 2023 rains brought some relief from the Horn of Africa’s worst drought in more than four decades.

The region will however continue to deal with its catastrophic consequences in 2023 and beyond.

It says the recovery of pastoral and agropastoral livelihoods from the devastating three-year drought will take years and humanitarian assistance continues to be critical until households and communities can recover.

The experts said the urgency and magnitude of the challenges facing the Eastern Africa region call for immediate and coordinated action to alleviate the suffering of millions affected by acute food insecurity.

Gebeyehu said the crisis calls for a paradigm shift.

“To make advancements towards SDG 2 to End Hunger, we must take bolder action to build resilience against future shocks,” he said.

Adding, “Including transforming our agri-systems to become more efficient, inclusive and sustainable.”

Gebeyehu said efforts to build and sustain peace are urgently needed as conflict and food insecurity are intertwined.

FAO sub-regional coordinator for Eastern Africa Dr Chimimba Phiri said the report should serve as a wake-up call.

He called for immediate and collective action to change as one way of addressing the root causes of food insecurity.

IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) director Dr Guleid Artan said early warning systems and early response mechanisms should be strengthened.

“We need bold measures to enhance resilience: investing in building resilient communities, promoting sustainable livelihoods and strengthening social safety nets,” he said.

Artan called for a shift towards sustainable food systems to reduce the country’s dependency on grain imports, reduce harvest losses and develop climate-smart agriculture practices.

The experts said addressing the dire food crises in the IGAD region requires urgent and coordinated efforts from international organisations, governments, the private sector, regional organisations, civil society and communities.

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