Drought in Horn of Africa puts 22 million to starvation, says UN | Africa

The number of people at risk of starvation in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa has risen to 22 million, says the United Nations World Food Program (WFP).

Years of rain in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia have caused the worst drought in 40 years and starvation-like conditions in the hardest-hit areas, according to aid organizations.

An unprecedented four failed rainy seasons has killed millions of livestock, destroyed crops and displaced 1.1 million people from their homes in search of food and water.

“The world must act now to protect the most vulnerable communities from the threat of widespread famine in the Horn of Africa,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said on Friday.

“There is still no end in sight to this drought crisis, so we must source the resources needed to save lives and prevent people from plunging into catastrophic levels of hunger and starvation.”

A man walks before a sandstorm in Dollow, southwest SomaliaA man walks before a sandstorm in Dollow, southwest Somalia. Photo: Sopa Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

In early 2022, WFP warned that 13 million people in the three countries were at risk of starvation and called on donors to open their wallets at a time of great need.

But the funds have been slow to come as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, among other crises, drew attention from the Horn disaster, humanitarian workers said.

Russia’s invasion also sent global food and fuel prices skyrocketing, making the delivery of relief supplies more expensive.

By mid-year, when it stopped raining in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, the number of people in need had risen to 20 million and warnings of famine were mounting.

WFP says at least 22 million people could go hungry by September.

“These numbers will continue to rise, and the severity of hunger will intensify if the next rainy season … is canceled and humanitarian assistance is cut off for the most vulnerable,” WFP said in a statement.

“Needs will remain high into 2023 and famine is now a serious risk, particularly in Somalia,” where almost half of the 15 million population is seriously starving.

WFP said $418 million would be needed over the next six months to help the most vulnerable.

Last month, the United States announced $1.2 billion in emergency food and malnutrition treatment to avert famine in the Horn of Africa and urged other nations to do more.