A large-scale, climate-induced, humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the Horn of Africa, and 3.1 million people in Kenya are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The IFRC is revising its Emergency Appeal, increasing Federation-wide funding requirements to CHF 12.5 million and extending the timeframe of the Appeal to 24 months. This Revised Appeal includes scaling up the emergency humanitarian assistance and early recovery activities for the most vulnerable communities affected by food insecurity, in line with the IFRC’s Pan Africa Zero Hunger Initiative. Urgent funding contributions are needed to enable the Kenyan Red Cross to scale up its humanitarian assistance to those most affected by the hunger crisis.
HORN OF AFRICA
Across the Horn of Africa (in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia), millions of households now face multiple concurrent shocks to food security. Millions of men, women, and children are facing hunger and malnutrition in the Horn of Africa. People are missing meals, parents are going without food for the sake of their children, and families are struggling to find enough water to keep their livestock alive. There is serious concern that another failed rainy season will bring further devastation to the lives of people who have already endured multiple climate disasters. As of March 2022, 14 million people are severely food insecure in the Horn of Africa, and acute malnutrition rates have increased considerably, affecting 5.5 million children.
Entangled with the drought, southern and southeastern Ethiopia, and the arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) regions of Kenya and Somalia, have been affected by three exceptionally wet seasons, bringing widespread floods, displacement, and a locust outbreak across the region in the 2020-2021 period. The exceptional series of consecutive drought and flood shocks is having devastating impacts on agriculture, rangelands, and water resources, leading to a sharp decrease in food availability and access due to worrisome food production shortages, an increase in staple food and water prices, and the erosion in livelihoods, which in turn driving an upsurge of food insecurity and malnutrition. In East Africa, food prices have been rising for many months in drought-affected areas, due to a combination of macro-economic challenges and below-average harvests, leaving families unable to afford even basic items.
Sustainable livelihoods are rural people’s best asset against hunger and malnutrition. Building more resilient livelihoods is one of the most powerful means to mitigate and prevent food security crises.
Food security, nutrition, and livelihoods sustainable interventions can save lives, mitigate gender inequalities, strengthen resilience in disaster and conflict situations, and can contribute to generating peace dividends and sustaining peace.
While large humanitarian needs are clearly visible and must be addressed through life-saving humanitarian support in the shortest time possible, there is a growing recognition that its drivers are deeply rooted in the larger climate-induced hunger crisis which requires a more complete and coordinated approach to building long-term community resilience to the evolving environmental conditions.
In addition to the pre-existing shocks, the crisis in Ukraine will mean disrupted supply chains and even higher prices, which could have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for people who are already facing acute hunger.
IN KENYA, AN ESTIMATED 3.1 MILLION PEOPLE ARE CURRENTLY IN NEED OF FOOD ASSISTANCE.
Following the failure of a third consecutive rainfall season in eastern and northern Kenya, most Aridand Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) are experiencing critical drought conditions. According to Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS Net), 3.1 million people are currently estimated to be food insecure IPC (Integrated food security Phase Classification) and above, including over 360,000 people in IPC 4 (Emergency). Malnutrition rates also remain high and could worsen if no immediate humanitarian assistance is provided.
Intense and heavy rainfall during rainy seasons causes cyclical floods in other areas of the country, the latest being flooding in Kitui County in December of 2021 3 and flash floods in Marsabit County in January 2022. Furthermore, the 2021-22 season saw the worst desert locust upsurge in 75 years. These climatic shocks are all drivers of food insecurity across the country. Making matters worse, climatic events are occurring alongside the compounding impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
Most areas that have been experiencing food insecurity are in the ASAL areas of Kenya, where communities practice agro-pastoralism and pastoralism and thus depend mainly on meat and milk for nutrition and income. Three consecutive failed rainy seasons resulting in lost crops and an extremely high rate of livestock deaths have had a devastating effect on the livelihoods of communities. In Kenya alone, 1.4 million livestock perished in the final period of last year because of drought.
Fifteen out of 23 ASAL counties are experiencing widespread water stress, as the latest rains (October to December) replenished less than 50% of surface water sources5 . Moreover, many water sources that are usually resilient to climate variability have dried up in Kenya, significantly increasing trekking distances to and from water sources for both livestock and communities. Severe to extreme vegetation deficits and water stress in some areas, as well as flooding in others, have led to high livestock mortality through early 2022.
The lack of rain is also driving displacement as families are forced to move in search of water and pasture, leading to intercommunal conflicts. The disruption of markets has also been noted further limiting communities’ access to income and food. Poor households are increasingly dependent on non-agricultural waged labour opportunities, firewood, charcoal sales, and petty trade to bridge income deficits and support market purchases.