East African drought worst in 40 years

The Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in more than 40 years. The East African region stretches from Eritrea in the north, through Ethiopia and Djibouti to the southern tips of Kenya and Somalia. More than 18 million people face severe hunger in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, according to the US government’s Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU). Around 7 million children are acutely malnourished, it says, while the UN refugee agency UNHCR says an estimated 1.5 million people have been displaced.

The region has experienced lower-than-average rainfall for four consecutive years. A combination of climate change, armed conflicts, rising international food and fuel prices and the impact of COVID-19 are factors behind the current crisis.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has impacted wheat and fertilizer supplies to the Horn of Africa. At the same time, the drought has had a devastating effect on farming, with millions of livestock deaths and significant drops in food production because of failed harvests. The UN says the cost of an average food basket has risen by 66% in Ethiopia and by 36% in Somalia, leaving many people unable to afford even basic items.

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