Aid agencies call for urgent relief against famine in Horn of Africa

Zamzam Jamac, a Somali woman displaced by the worsening drought due to failed rain seasons, feeds her child Fatuma Botan, 1, through a nasogastric tube at the paediatric ward in the Banadir Hospital, in Mogadishu, Somalia Sept 24, 2022. (FEISAL OMAR / REUTERS)

NAIROBI – International aid agencies have called for immediate global solidarity to help prevent famine in the Horn of Africa.

"A humanitarian catastrophe is occurring now, and more funds are crucial to save lives," according to a statement by the UN agencies and NGOs

The United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations warned that significant increases in severe acute malnutrition admissions to nutrition treatment programs have been observed across the region.

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"Many people have completely lost their livelihoods and coping capacities and are relying heavily on assistance to meet basic needs, which will challenge the drought recovery," the agencies said in a joint statement issued in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Monday evening.

According to the statement, a fifth consecutive season of drought has been set in motion by a poor start to Oct-Dec rains, and below-average rainfall is also considered likely to continue during the March-May 2023 season.

"A humanitarian catastrophe is occurring now, and more funds are crucial to save lives," it said.

It noted that the Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia drought response plans are only 50 percent funded despite escalating needs, severely limiting humanitarian agencies' capacities to respond.

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According to the statement, recovery from a drought of this magnitude will take years regardless of next year's rainfall performance, with extremely high humanitarian needs set to persist and even increase in 2023.