22 million to face hunger by September in the Horn of Africa
The Greater Horn of Africa is experiencing one of the worst hunger crises of the last 70 years, according to the organization, which expects at least 22 million people to face starvation by September.
The World Food Programme (WFP) organization said on Friday that the number of people at risk of starvation in the drought-ravaged Horn of Africa has increased to 22 million.
Years of insufficient rainfall across Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia have caused the worst drought in 40 years and conditions akin to famine in the hardest-hit areas, according to the organization.
An unprecedented four failed rainy seasons have killed millions of livestock, destroyed crops, and forced 1.1 million people from their homes in search of food and water.
"The world needs to act now to protect the most vulnerable communities from the threat of widespread famine in the Horn of Africa," said WFP executive director David Beasley.
"There is still no end in sight to this drought crisis, so we must get the resources needed to save lives and stop people plunging into catastrophic levels of hunger and starvation."
At the start of 2022, WFP warned that 13 million people across the three countries faced starvation, and appealed for donors to open their purses at a time of great need.
But funds were slow in coming, with the war in Ukraine among other crises drawing attention from the disaster in the Horn.
The blockade on Russian oil and the war with Ukraine also sent global food and fuel prices soaring, making aid delivery more expensive.
By the middle of the year, when rain failed to appear again in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, the number in extreme need soared to 20 million, and warnings of famine grew more urgent.
WFP says by September, at least 22 million people could face starvation.
"This number will continue to climb, and the severity of hunger will deepen if the next rainy season... fails and the most vulnerable people do not receive humanitarian relief," WFP said in a statement.
"Needs will remain high into 2023 and famine is now a serious risk, particularly in Somalia" where nearly half the population of 15 million is seriously hungry.
WFP said $418 million was needed over the next six months to help the worst-off.
Last month, the US announced $1.2 billion in emergency food and malnutrition treatment to help avert famine in the Horn of Africa, and urged other nations to do more.
In early June this year, the President of Senegal and of the African Union, Macky Sall, held a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and called for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Moscow, specifically those affecting the export of wheat and fertilizers.
During the meeting, held in the city of Sochi, the Senegalese president declared that “there are two main problems: the (food) crisis and the sanctions. We must work together to solve these problems so that sanctions on food products are lifted.”
“The sanctions against Russia have worsened this situation and now we have no access to grain from Russia, mainly wheat. And, most importantly, we have no access to fertilizers. The situation was bad and now it has worsened, creating a threat to food security in Africa,” he warned.
Russia and Ukraine together account for 29 percent of the world’s wheat exports, which is why African nations depend on this grain.
For years, the US appeared to be the largest donor to the WFP. The reality, however, is that it is largely responsible for instigating this crisis.
Since the Green Revolution, US agribusiness and financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have sought to hook farmers and nation states on corporate seeds and proprietary inputs as well as loans to construct the type of agri-infrastructure that chemical-intensive farming requires.
See next: The state of world hunger