The World Food Program (WFP) on Tuesday warned that an estimated 13 million people are facing hunger across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, as the Horn of Africa grappled with severe drought caused by the driest conditions since 1981.
Tomson Phiri, spokesperson for the WFP, told a press briefing in Geneva Tuesday that the severe drought was widespread and likely to grow worse, with livestock dying, causing devastating losses for pastoral families.
After three consecutive failed rainy seasons, harvests were as much as 70 percent below the norm in affected areas, the WFP spokesperson noted.
Moreover, he said, food and water prices were skyrocketing, leading to a sharp decline in the terms of trade.
“Given the forecast for a below-average March to May rainy season, the next two to three months would be critical. Early action was needed to prevent a humanitarian disaster across the Horn of Africa,” he said.
WFP said it would be launching its Regional Drought Response Plan for the Horn of Africa, where teams were already supporting families with cash and emergency assistance and providing life-saving food and nutrition assistance to affected communities.
The WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have warned few weeks ago that insecurity is soaring across 20 countries and regions where conflict, economic shocks, natural hazards, political instability, and limited humanitarian access, are putting millions of lives at risk.
In their Hunger Hotspots Report, the two agencies said Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen remain the countries of highest concern.
According to the report, all four countries had areas where people were experiencing, or projected to experience, starvation and death, requiring the most urgent attention.