Lutheran World Relief is currently active in Kenya, Tanzania South Sudan and Uganda in East Africa. Due to the dual phenomena of El Niño, which began in 2015, and ensuing La Niña, many areas of East Africa have experienced shortened and erratic rainfalls, leading to reduced crop production, poor rangeland conditions in pastoral areas and food insecurity. The January harvest of maize, a staple food crop in the region, was expected to be 50 percent below normal. As a result, many areas of these countries are predicted to experience IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) conditions by May 2017, meaning families are engaging in coping strategies such as skipping meals or reducing portions, looking for off-farm labor opportunities, or selling household assets, including livestock, to support food consumption.
On February 10, 2017, the President of Kenya declared the drought a national disaster in 23 counties.1 The Kenyan government projects that about 1.3 million people are currently affected by the drought and in need of immediate support. This number is estimated to increase to 2.4 million people by April 2017.
On February 20, 2017, the Government of South Sudan declared portions of Unity State in famine or high likelihood of famine due to war and a collapsing economy. Approximately 100,000 people are currently facing famine with an additional 1 million on the brink of famine.2 A formal famine declaration means that people have already started dying of hunger. Urgent action is needed to prevent additional deaths.
INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE EFFORTS
Most international attention to date has been placed on Nigeria, Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia, which face a credible risk of famine (IPC Phase 5) this year due to the multiplier effects of drought, insecurity and economic instability. While the needs in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are expected to be great, it is unclear at this time if additional support will be provided in these countries this year.