Women walk through shelters in Sebedow Internally displaced Person (IDP) camp, one of more than 500 that surround Baidoa hosting 900,000 displaced people, in Baidoa, Somalia, on November 9, 2022. (PHOTO / AFP)
ADDIS ABABA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Friday warned that "unprecedented" levels of acute food insecurity have persisted in drought-affected Horn of Africa (HOA) countries.
In its latest Horn of Africa drought response and situational report, the WFP said countries in the region, mainly Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, have been facing severe drought for two and a half years after five failed rainy seasons.
The WFP said the situation has been exacerbated by various factors such as population growth, macroeconomic volatility, pandemics, extreme poverty and conflicts
It said the region is currently experiencing the most severe and protracted drought in decades, leading to unprecedented levels of acute food insecurity in southern and southern-eastern parts of Ethiopia, Kenya's arid and semi-arid lands, and much of Somalia.
Noting the Horn of Africa region is known for its recurring droughts, the WFP said the situation has been exacerbated by various factors such as population growth, macroeconomic volatility, pandemics, extreme poverty and conflicts.
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The WFP said the latest figures project 5.4 million people to be food insecure in Kenya from March to June 2023.
In Somalia, an estimated 6.5 million people are expected to face a crisis or worse food insecurity outcomes from January to March 2023, it said. In Ethiopia, some 11.8 million people need emergency food assistance in drought-affected areas alone, an increase of 59 percent compared to early 2022.
"The current catastrophe in the Horn of Africa has made it one of the most food-insecure regions with substantially higher prevalence rates than other regions of the world," it said.
The WFP warned that the occurrence of another poor rainy season between March to May 2023 as expected would have devastating consequences for communities.
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It said regardless of seasonal performance, humanitarian needs will remain high in 2023, and multi-sectoral assistance must be scaled up to save lives.