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Humanitarian Crises in Southern and Eastern Africa

In early 2017, famine was declared in parts of South Sudan, with almost five million people classified as severely food insecure, while warnings of possible famine were issued for other countries in the Horn of Africa. By February the number of severely food-insecure people across the greater Horn of Africa region had increased to 22.9 million and this could rise even further. (OCHA, 24 Feb 2017)

WFP has classified the drought crisis in the Horn of Africa as a Level 2 Emergency. Some 2.9 million people in Somalia and 5.6 million people in Ethiopia are categorised as being in either crisis or emergency IPC levels 3 and 4, and require urgent humanitarian assistance. In Kenya, 2.6 million people also require emergency food assistance, of whom 2.2 million are in IPC Phase 3.

The Somali and Kenyan governments have declared the drought situation a “national disaster” and appealed to the international community to support the response efforts. In Somalia, WFP scaled up its emergency response in February, reaching nearly 1 million people through general distributions, nutrition interventions and school meals programme. (WFP, 15 Mar 2017)

At the other end of the continent, some countries in southern Africa were hit by floods and an infestation of army worm, further compounding the food insecurity experienced in the region as a consequence of the El-Niño phenomenon that struck in 2015-16.

According to WFP, the nutrition situation deteriorated in the seven most severely drought-affected countries - Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe - in the latter half of 2016, with several countries recording wasting levels above 5 percent. Pockets of very high acute malnutrition are still prevalent in Zimbabwe and Madagascar (WFP, 21 Feb 2017)

Madagascar was also hit by a tropical cyclone in March 2017, leaving more than 110,000 people displaced.

All Updates on Humanitarian Crises in Southern and Eastern Africa

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28 Mar 2017 description

Downpours due to the Tropical cyclone Dineo resulted in flooding in additional areas. Recently, the Met services alerted that rains will continue and the water in rivers will further increase, which would result in overflooding and therefore affecting new areas in addition to the ones affected by the cyclone. Gaza province (the districts of Chibuto, Guja and Chokwe) is the most affected where 1,743 households have been reported affected and 1,313 houses destroyed.

28 Mar 2017 description

Madagascar : le travail de l’équipe pays interinstitutions récompensé pour ses bons résultats

28 mars 2017, Rome - Force est de constater que les trois agences alimentaires des Nations Unies basées à Rome sont plus fortes lorsqu'elles travaillent ensemble. Aujourd'hui, le travail du personnel de l'équipe pays interinstitutions de Madagascar, visant à promouvoir la résilience rurale et à renforcer la sécurité alimentaire sur l'île, a été salué.

28 Mar 2017 description

Interagency country team in Madagascar recognized for teamwork that yields results

28 March 2017, Rome - In an example of how the UN's three Rome-based food agencies are stronger working as one, staff from the Madagascar interagency country team were today recognized for their work to promote rural resilience and boost food security in the African island nation.

28 Mar 2017 description


Targeted violence against aid workers has escalated in the past two weeks. On 25 March, seven aid workers from South Sudan and Kenya were killed in a road ambush while travelling from Juba, the capital, to Pibor in Jonglei.

This comes after two IOM staff were killed and three injured in a road ambush in Yirol county in Lakes on 14 March, which led to three humanitarian organisations engaged in cholera response in the area suspending their activities on 23 March.

28 Mar 2017 description


  • Despite the Minister of Agriculture’s maize export ban on commercial traders, exports of maize through WFP’s humanitarian window continues. As of 28 February, cumulative tonnage dispatches (13,000 mt contract) was 5,348 mt.

28 Mar 2017 description

Key points:

8 percentage point reduction in households reporting poor food consumption between January and February

Negative coping strategy levels remain stable since January

Price of maize meal is 4 percent lower than the same time last year

Heavy rains hinder access to markets

Situation Update

28 Mar 2017 description


  • WFP assisted 10,000 refugees in Nyarugusu refugee camp through its Cash Based Transfer Pilot. The cash programme adds TShs 200 million (USD 89,000) each month into the local economy potentially creating more opportunities for the host community.

Operational Updates

28 Mar 2017 description

Two million people in the breakaway Horn of Africa republic -- about half its population -- face starvation after an acute drought killed their livestock

By George Obulutsa and Abdirahman Hussein

BURAO, Somalia, March 28 (Reuters) - In a makeshift camp beside a disused airfield in the breakaway Somali region of Somaliland, 32-year old Nima Mohamed sits next to an open wood fire, boiling a kettle of black tea.

Read more on the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

28 Mar 2017 description

Daniel Dickinson

Seven-year-old Nancy does not know it yet, but in five or six years’ time she will have to give up her home life and become the property of a family she has never met, all because her mother committed a crime.

Two years ago, the mother got into an argument with another woman in Torit Town in Imatong state in the south of South Sudan. The argument developed into a fight, which, in turn, led to a fatal blow to the head with a glass bottle.

28 Mar 2017 description

Juba, 27 March 2017— The third National Health Summit for South Sudan opened today with some 500 participants coming together to consider the challenges and opportunities of delivering health in South Sudan, and to establish a clear vision for health in the years ahead.

Organized by the Republic of South Sudan’s Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) is a key organizing partner. The five day event’s theme is “Harnessing Strong Partnerships for a Resilient Health System towards attainment of Universal Health Coverage.”

28 Mar 2017 description


  • As WFP Malawi nears the end of its largest and longest (July 2016 – March 2017) humanitarian response in recent history, it continued to work with partners to provide 5.9 million people relief assistance in February.

  • WFP continued to support essential safety net activities (e.g. school meals) and expanded its nutrition support to people living with HIV and TB suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).

28 Mar 2017 description
report IRIN

A commentary from 10 leading academics and humanitarian professionals

Six years after a famine killed a quarter of a million people in Somalia, the country is threatened with another. Famines only occur if political decision-makers allow them to; it is imperative that the right decisions are made now. But have we learnt enough from the mistakes of 2011?

28 Mar 2017 description

Juba, 28 March 2017 – The Government of Japan has contributed USD 906,000 for the mine action project “Humanitarian Mine Action in Support of Conflict Affected Communities in South Sudan.” Over the past five years, Japan has contribution over USD 13 million to mine action operations in South Sudan. Last year alone, Japanese-funded teams cleared a total of 1,799,211 sqm, and closed 450 spot tasks including emergency operations by UNMAS Quick Response Teams to survey and clear civilian locations in Juba in the immediate aftermath of conflict in July 2016.

28 Mar 2017 description

Drought in the Horn of Africa

Drought situation and impact

The ongoing drought is widespread, and the situation is deteriorating faster than even expected. Conditions are extremely worrying across southern and southeastern Ethiopia, northern and coastal Kenya, almost all of Somalia, southeastern South Sudan and northeastern Uganda.

28 Mar 2017 description

Secretary-General: [inaudible] …I have been to Zaatari about ten times. Remembering six years ago when I was seeing the first Syrian refugees coming over the border, how sad it is, how terrible it is, that today we still have Zaatari camp full with Syrian refugees, and that the tragedy of Syria is going on and on and on.