The World Food Program (WFP) said Monday that the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa is expanding and deepening after five consecutive below-average rains.
The UN agency said the upcoming March-May 2023 rains are also forecast to be below-average in the region and “should these rains fail, and humanitarian assistance not be delivered at scale, food insecurity will continue to deteriorate.”
The WFP said the combined insecurity and macroeconomic volatility, the impact of the drought on food and nutrition security has been devastating in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia—the worst affected country by the drought in the region that has already displaced more than 1.3 million people.
“Across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, an estimated 22 million people are now acutely food insecure because of the drought,” the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a statement on Monday afternoon.
Some 5.1 million children across drought-affected areas of the three countries are acutely malnourished in 2023, with dire implications for their health, growth and survival, according to the WFP.
“Regardless of how the 2023 rains perform, extremely high humanitarian needs will persist through 2023 while a full recovery from a drought of this magnitude will take years,” the statement added.
To address the devastating drought-induced hunger and malnutrition across the region, the UN agency said it is pursuing an integrated dual track approach, meeting immediate life-saving food and nutritional needs while simultaneously building resilience to extreme climate variability.
“WFP has scaled-up its crisis response to reach record numbers of people, pushing deeper into hard-to-reach areas and averting the worst outcomes so far that including relief food assistance, delivering life-saving relief through food and cash to the most food-insecure people in the most drought-affected areas,” it added.