As of end of July, the East Africa region has reported more than 52,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 1,600 confirmed deaths. Kenya and Ethiopia are the worst affected countries, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the cases in the region. WFP has adjusted existing programmes and worked with governments to meet the increased food security needs of the vulnerable populations affected by the pandemic, in particular newly food insecure urban populations in Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Juba, Mogadishu, Kampala and other cities across the region.
Urgent action is needed to avoid the triple threat of COVID-19, floods, and locusts having catastrophic consequences for East Africa. These shocks do not just have immediate, short-term effects, they exacerbate prevailing food insecurity and undermine livelihoods and development gains that took years to build. WFP estimates the number of acutely food insecure people in East Africa could increase by 73 percent – from 24 million pre-COVID-19, to 41.5 million before the end of 2020.
WFP plans to assist an additional 3.9 million people in 2020 because of the impact of COVID-19 alone, bringing the total number of people assisted by WFP this year to 25 million. To meet their food and nutrition needs over the next six months, WFP requires over US$ 1.1 billion. WFP has continued to sustain critical lifesaving assistance, scaling up to meet these new needs and supporting governments and partners in the national COVID-19 response plans. Leveraging on WFP’s expertise in social protection, cash transfers, WFP has supported governments to expand existing and introduce new social protection and safety programs to meet the food and nutrition needs of the vulnerable, including urban populations.
In the face of these unprecedented challenges, WFP has also kept food moving and operations going across the region to continue to serve our beneficiaries. WFP launched the Addis Ababa Humanitarian Air Hub as one of the first global hubs for COVID-19 Response in close collaboration with the Government of Ethiopia.