UN, IGAD warn of worsening drought conditions in Horn of Africa

2021-11-18 16:55:58 GMT2021-11-19 00:55:58(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

NAIROBI, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations food agency and East Africa's bloc on Thursday warned of worsening drought conditions in the Horn of Africa region.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) called for urgent action to mitigate the impacts of drought across the region. "Due to the threat of worsening drought conditions, food insecurity will likely rise during the first half of 2022 across the Horn of Africa," the two organizations said in a joint statement issued in Nairobi.

IGAD Executive Secretary, Workneh Gebeyehu and the FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, Chimimba David Phiri, said urgent action is thus required now to safeguard livelihoods, save lives, and prevent possible starvation in some areas. Vulnerable communities in the IGAD region, including Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Sudan, continue to experience a complex mix of re-enforcing shocks and stresses that are eroding their resilience to food and nutrition insecurity.

As of October, some 26 million people were already facing high levels of food insecurity, according to the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group, which is co-chaired by the IGAD and FAO.

The two organizations said drought conditions are already affecting the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya, southern and central Somalia, and Belg-receiving areas of southern and south-eastern Ethiopia as consecutive poor rainfall seasons have driven below-average crop production, rising cereal prices, poorer rangeland conditions, reduced livestock production, and drought-related animal deaths in many areas.

A forecast by the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre says the start of the current October-December rainy season has been significantly delayed, with little to no rainfall observed to date in many areas, raising the probability of another poor season.

"Should this occur, agricultural and pastoral conditions will further deteriorate, causing households already struggling with the effects of multiple, concurrent hazards to employ negative coping strategies and reduce their food consumption," the two organizations said.

This, they said, is a major source of concern as food insecurity in the region has historically increased sharply following consecutive poor rainfall seasons.

IGAD and FAO said the increased frequency of climatic hazards, combined with the effects of other stressors, is threatening hard-won gains.

"It is, therefore, crucial to act now to protect these resilience gains and prevent more people from sliding into food insecurity and malnutrition," they said. Enditem