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Drought in the Horn of Africa


The Horn of Africa is facing the third severe La Niña‑induced drought in a decade, with the region on the verge of a catastrophe, with Kenya and Somalia declaring national emergencies. Somalia has been hardest hit, with 66 of the 74 districts experiencing drought, with rainfall in parts of the country between 55 and 70 per cent below 40-year average levels. In the past ten years alone, the Horn of Africa has endured three severe droughts (2010-2011, 2016-2017 and 2020-2021).

Drought has severely impacted Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, exacerbating the humanitarian situation in a region characterized by underlying vulnerabilities. The increasing frequency of disasters in the region has meant that the vulnerable have little space to recover, leading to an increase in the number of internally displaced people 

Furthermore, drought-affected communities are struggling to cope with the cumulative consequences of desert locust upsurge (the first in 70 years), the COVID‑19 pandemic, abnormally high food prices, conflict and insecurity, crippling food production, depleting pastures, disrupting markets, causing widespread human and animal deaths.

Approx. 12 to 14 million people face high levels of acute food insecurity and severe water shortages across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, approx 5.5 million children are expected to be acutely malnourished in these three countries in 2022 of which more than 1.6 million severely malnourished. In parts of Kenya and Somalia, January/February 2022 cereal harvests are expected to be 60 to 70 per cent below-average.

Across Kenya, more than 1.4 million animals have died, according to the Government of Kenya’s National Drought Management Agency’s mid-season assessment. In Borena and Dawa  (Ethiopia’s Oromia region), an FAO rapid assessment in November 2021 found that approximately 68,000 animals had died and over 1 million were in poor condition.

There are dire water shortages, with water points that have dried up or diminished in quality, heightening the risk of water-borne diseases and increasing the risk of skin and eye infections. Across Kenya and Somalia, communities are leaving their land, walking long distances to find water and pasture for livestock leading to an increase in inter-communal tensions and conflict.

In 2021, approximately 169,000 people in Somalia were displaced in search of water, food and pasture, while over half a million were forcibly displaced by the conflict, according to UNHCR.

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