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Drought in East Africa puts millions at risk of severe hunger

Millions of people are facing severe hunger in the Horn of Africa due to record droughts, the United Nations has warned.

Up to 13 million people are at risk in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

The region is experiencing the driest weather since 1981.

The past three seasons of low rainfall have destroyed crops and many livestock have died.

Ethiopia. Drought in Somali Region
People trying help a cow with a very a poor body condition due to the drought situation in the Adadle district, Biyolow Kebele in Somali region of Ethiopia
Drought in the Somali region is killing cattle depended on by local farmers

The food shortages, which have been compounded by rising prices, inflation and low demand for agricultural workers, are set to worsen as forecasters predict more dry weather in the coming months.

Water shortages are also forcing people from their homes.

“Harvests are ruined, livestock are dying and hunger is growing,” Michael Dunford, WFP regional director for Eastern Africa, said.

More on Ethiopia

“The situation requires immediate humanitarian action and consistent support to build the resilience of communities for the future.”

The WFP has called for £241m of aid as part of its regional drought response plan for the Horn of Africa.

The death of livestock is a serious concern for the pastoralists of Higlo Kebele in the Somali region

This will meet the urgent needs of 4.5 million people over the next six months.

The aid is critical to avoiding a major humanitarian crisis, the WFP says, such as that in Somalia in 2011 when more than 250,000 people died of hunger.

In Ethiopia alone, it is estimated that more than six million people will need aid by mid-March and 3,000 are already receiving money transfers from the WFP.

Elamu, a mother of seven, is one of these recipients.

“With the drought, the livestock we have are in danger,” she said.

“Our livelihood depends on them, so we are doing everything we can to keep them healthy. Every morning we lead our cattle to graze at a pasture far away, but even that area is drying up.”


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