Aid organizations and the United Nations are calling for urgent famine relief in East Africa – as the people of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia confront their worst drought in 40 years.
Oxfam says food shortages are likely to cause one death every 36 seconds until the end of the year – while the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says help is needed now.
Etienne Peterschmitt, Representative in Somalia, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):
“We should not wait for a famine declaration to act, because then it will be too late. We know from 2011, when we faced a famine situation and a famine declaration, that by the time the famine was declared half of the 260,000 people who died had actually already died.”
Four successive seasons of poor rainfall have caused livestock to die and crops to fail – with rural populations in hard-to-reach areas of Somalia the hardest hit.
According to Etienne Peterschmitt, “The current drought is the worst that we have seen in the last four decades. It has affected about 7.8 million people. So just to put things in perspective this is about half of Somalia`s population. 90% of the country is facing extreme drought”.
High food prices caused by the war in Ukraine have exacerbated the situation, while food instability is often linked to an increase in gender-based violence.
The alert coincides with the United Nations’ World Food Day.