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Drought in the Greater Horn of Africa - Millions face famine

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The Horn of Africa is on the brink of a major humanitarian crisis with some 12.4 million people in five countries facing severe food shortages and possibly famine because of drought.
The drought is an endemic natural disaster that has hit Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan. Pastoralists in southern and eastern Ethiopia, Somalia and northern Kenya are the worst affected populations.

In total, some 367,000 people are threatened by drought in Eritrea, 7.7 million in Ethiopia, 2.7 million in Kenya, 1.2 million in Somalia and 75,000 in the Sudan.

The current crisis will deepen if rains fail to arrive in time to save the belg harvest, especially in Ethiopia, where the drought-affected population accounts for 80 percent of the overall total.

Drought on the Horn: History repeating itself

Country
Year
No's affected
Ethiopia
1973
3 million
Sudan
1984
8.4 million
Ethiopia
1984
7.8 million
Sudan
1991
8.6 million
Ethiopia
1991
6.2 million
Kenya
1992
2.7 million

While drought is the major cause of the food shortages, the impact of this natural disaster is being worsened by man-made factors: conflict and insecurity.

Ethiopia and Eritrea are currently engaged in a vicious border war; Sudan is plagued by civil war and has the world's largest population of internally displaced persons; and, in Somalia, fighting between rival militias is playing havoc with food security.

The conflicts bring added challenges to humanitarian aid operations in the region. They include looting of food supplies; hostage-taking and even the killing of aid workers; logistical problems in the transportation of existing food stocks.