33.1 million people in the eastern and central Africa region are currently severely food insecure (IPC phase 3 or worse) and require food assistance. Of these, 16.95 million are from four of the eight IGAD member countries (i.e. Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan).
Significant food security gains have been realised in most countries following aboveaverage rains across the region towards the end of 2019. However, macro-economic shocks, protracted conflict, the ongoing desert locust infestation and the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to erode these gains.
Acute malnutrition levels across the region remain high and could further deteriorate.
Diseases such as cholera, malaria and measles remain a threat across the region.
The COVID-19 pandemic could exacerbate an already fragile situation, especially if it spreads to vulnerable communities such as those with high levels of acute malnutrition, refugee settlements and IDP camps, slums, hard to access and with poor infrastructure ASALs and other informal settlements.
The halt of school feeding programmes occasioned by school closures as a temporary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, could result in significant deteriorations of nutritional outcomes among the school going youth.
Rising food and nutrition insecurity and school closures may force families to adopt negative coping mechanisms and lead to increase protection concerns, including violence.
According to UNHCR, the East, Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region continues to witness an increasing number of displaced people. Presently, the region hosts an estimated 13 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 4.6 million refugees and asylum seekers.
The desert locust situation remains critical and a threat to food security and livelihoods, particularly in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia where hopper bands are already beginning to form immature swarms.
The start of the March to May 2020 rains was timely across most of the equatorial parts of the region. The onset was characterised by heavy to moderate, frequent showers, prompting commencement of planting and other seasonal activities since mid-March.