Horn of Africa: A joint call for action before a major regional humanitarian crisis - Joint Position Paper
11.4 million people are currently food insecure (IPC Phase 3+) and require urgent food assistance in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and Uganda. Although the food insecure population is currently lower than the total numbers in need at the height of 2016/17 drought, there is a high risk of a worsening situation due to observed and forecast drought conditions in Somalia, Kenya, and south-eastern Ethiopia (where overall needs are the highest), as well as in north eastern Uganda. An increase in the number of people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity or higher is expected from now through September as a result of consecutive failed seasons that have destroyed livelihoods and eroded the ability of communities to cope.
According to a FEWS NET alert published on 21 Mayii, remote sensing data indicates that cumulative rainfall totals between March and mid-May 2019 have been less than 50 percent of average across the Horn of Africa and have been less 80 percent of average across much of Uganda. Additionally, in northern Somalia and localized areas of eastern Uganda, western Kenya, and southeastern Ethiopia, the ongoing long/Gu rainy season has been either the first or second driest on record.
In cropping areas, the severe dryness has disrupted planting operations and has severely impacted crop establishment and development across the region. According to FAO’s Agricultural Stress Index (ASI), severe drought conditions are currently affecting large portions of the region’s cropland, with the most severe drought intensities recorded over central Uganda (the main cereal exporter for the region), south-eastern Kenya and southern Somalia (see Annex 2).
In pastoral and agro-pastoral areas, the cumulative impact of the poor October-December rains, followed by the current dryness has resulted in very poor rangeland conditions and widespread pasture and water shortages. Worst-affected areas include south-eastern Ethiopia, northern Kenya and central and northern Somalia, where livestock body conditions are currently poor, and drought-induced livestock diseases, abortions and deaths have been reported. In these areas, the availability of milk, a key source of nutrients for young children, is extremely limited.
The nutrition situation across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia remains concerning. Currently, in Ethiopia, the burden of acutely malnourished children remains the highest in the region, with the largest concentration in the Somali region. A key risk for these children remains the ability to provide uninterrupted integrated services at scale, which is under threat due to funding constraints, especially for the pipeline for treating moderately malnourished children. In Somalia, the nutrition survey results from the 2019 Deyr assessment, conducted by FSNAU and FEWS NET, highlighted specific concerns in several districts in Somaliland and Puntland and indicated that risks remain in Central South Region, should the rains be poor. The nutrition sector in Somalia is severely underfunded, restricting opportunities to scale up response and therefore risks increasing the numbers of acutely malnourished children. In Kenya, the nutrition situation is critical yet stable, with the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) exceeding 15 percent in Turkana, Samburu and Mandera counties, as well as East Pokot (Baringo) and North Horr (Marsabit) sub-counties.
The situation is particularly challenging among the populations displaced, which have reached 5.8 million in Somalia and Ethiopia. The drought could further exacerbate the risk of displacement and will impact the already precarious situation of the IDPs, especially newly displaced ones. iii