Musyoka NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The UN Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Friday released an
alert warning of worsening hunger in East Africa due to
poor rains that has left crops scorched, pastures dry
and thousands of livestock dead.
The alert issued by FAO’s Global
Information and Early Warning Systems (GIEWS) warned
that the third consecutive failed rainy season has
seriously eroded families’ resilience, and urgent and
effective livelihood support is required.
“Timely humanitarian assistance has
averted famine so far but must be sustained,” the UN
It said conditions across the region
are expected to further deteriorate in the coming months
with the onset of the dry season and an anticipated
early start of the lean season.
According to FAO, most affected areas,
which received less than half of their normal seasonal
rainfall, are central and southern Somalia, southeastern
Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, northern Tanzania
and northeastern and southwestern Uganda.
“This is the third season in a row
that families have had to endure failed rains - they
are simply running out of ways to cope,” said FAO’s
Director of Emergencies Dominique Burgeon.
“Support is needed now before the
situation rapidly deteriorates further,” Burgeon
The number of people in need of
humanitarian assistance in the five countries, currently
estimated at about 16 million, has increased by about 30
percent since late 2016. In Somalia, about half of the
total population is food insecure.
The alert said food security situation
for pastoralists is of particular concern, in Ethiopia,
Kenya and Somalia, where animal mortality rates are high
and milk production from the surviving animals has
declined sharply with negative consequences on food
security and nutrition.
“When we know how critical milk is for
the healthy development of children aged under five,
and the irreversible damage its lack can create, it
is evident that supporting pastoralists going
through this drought is essential,” said Burgeon.
In Somalia there are unfavourable
prospects for this year’s main Gu crops, after the Gu
rains were late with poor rainfall and erratic
distribution over most areas of the country.
In the Lower Shabelle region, the main
maize producing area, seasonal rainfall was about 50
percent below average and drought conditions are
currently affecting up to 85 percent of the cropland.
Livestock prices have plummeted due to
poor animal body conditions and this, coupled with
soaring cereal prices, has severely constrained
pastoralists’ access to food. Rangeland and livestock
conditions are expected to further deteriorate at least
until the next rainy season starts in October.
In addition, fall armyworm, which has
caused extensive damage to maize crops in southern
Africa, has worsened the situation.
In Kenya, the pest has so far affected
about 200,000 hectares of crops, and in Uganda more than
half the country’s 111 districts are affected.
In Ethiopia, unfavourable belg rains
in southern cropping areas are likely to result in
localized cereal production shortfalls. Drought is also
affecting yields in Kenya’s central, southeastern and
In Tanzania, unfavourable rains are
likely to result in localized cereal production
shortfalls in northern and central areas, while in
Uganda production prospects are unfavourable for first
season crops in the southwestern and northern districts.