2008-07-29 13:11:46 GMT 2008-07-29 21:11:46 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
NAIROBI, July 29 (Xinhua) -- The United States government has provided more than 797 million U.S. dollars in assistance to date to help people affected by the complex emergency in the Horn of Africa in fiscal year 2008.
A statement from Washington's development agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), said the funding provides emergency food assistance, nutrition, health, agriculture and food security, and water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions, as well as assistance to refugees and conflict-affected people in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.
"Consecutive seasons of failed rains, localized civil insecurity, periodic trade disruptions, and rising local and global food prices have created a complex food insecurity crisis in the Horn of Africa," said the statement received here on Tuesday.
The USAID is also warning that at least 16 million people in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are in need of emergency assistance.
According to reports from the USAID-supported Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET), the number of food insecure people in the Horn of Africa region is expected to continue to increase in the coming months due to rising food costs and reduced crop production resulting from the poor performance of the March to May rains.
The report says that poor rains have caused a 60 percent crop failure in Kenya since May and that the anticipated crop loss would greatly affect the country's food security.
The report also indicates that national crop production in this year's long rains season is expected to reduce by about 12 percent compared to last year.
The July report says the crop losses are as a result of poor and erratic rains in southern parts of the Rift Valley highlands. The survey also indicates that food production would be affected by a 30 percent increase in the cost of production that led to sub-optimal application of fertilizer.
Poor urban populations are particularly vulnerable to rising food prices due to a dependency on the market for the purchase of the majority of staple food needs.
It shows that the area under cultivation of maize in the Rift Valley has declined by 10 percent and 2.3 million metric tons of maize will be harvested during the current long-rains season, against last year's 2.52 million metric tons.
The report adds that pastoral areas are likely to face a food crisis as result of an outbreak of a viral disease affecting livestock. The survey notes that the uncontrolled spread of Pestesdes Petit Ruminants (PPR) a dangerous viral disease affecting sheep and goats has also affected residents.
"In pastoral regions, the effects of below normal rainfall is compounded by PPR, a disease with high mortality rate in goats, and sheep-further disrupting livestock trade and pastoral incomes," it observed.
The areas include Samburu, Turkana and West Pokot districts where acute malnutrition among children has been reported.
"Despite vaccination against PPR, the number of vulnerable livestock far exceeds the scope of current vaccination," the report says.