UN FAO warns of worsening drought in Horn of Africa

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The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warns that the Horn of Africa is facing drought, as a result of the La Nina weather pattern. It says parts of the region are on the verge of a catastrophe if humanitarian assistance is not urgently increased.

The UN estimates more than 12 million people in these countries are already suffering from the impact of the extended drought.

Parts of the Horn of Africa have suffered consistent food insecurity for more than three years. From a locust invasion that started in 2020 to the impact of the COVID -19 pandemic now, there is a third season of drought driven by La Nina.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation says the rural communities in the Horn of Africa are suffering because of reduced agricultural productivity. Experts say poor rains in October-December 2020 and March-May 2021 were followed by an extremely dry October-December season last year.

The FAO warns that Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia could be the worst-hit countries in this region, with an estimated 25.3 million people likely to face acute food insecurity by mid-2022 if they do not get immediate support.

The governments of Kenya and Somalia have declared drought emergencies. According to the United Nations, at least 2.9 million people in eastern Kenya, 6.4 million in Ethiopia, and more than three million people in Somalia have been affected by drought.

Out of the total of 138 million dollars that the FAO is seeking to assist communities in the Horn, it says it needs 130 million by the end of February to get aid to 1.5 million people.

The funds are meant for water, seeds, animal feed, veterinary care, and much-needed cash to rural families at risk. The United Kingdom has responded by offering over 23 million dollars to the three countries and South Sudan to assist those in need.

UN FAO says countries in the Horn of Africa need urgent assistance to deal with effects of drought: