This blog will not weary of exposing the preventable suffering of our African fellow workers and it will not tire of explaining that world socialism is the only permanent answer to the recurring problems of poverty and hunger in Africa.
Across the Horn of Africa, at least 36.1 million people have now been affected by the drought which began in October 2020, including 24.1 million in Ethiopia, 7.8 million in Somalia and 4.2 million in Kenya. This represents a significant increase from July 2022 (when an estimated 19.4 million people were affected).
At least 20.5 million people are already waking each day to high levels of acute food insecurity and rising malnutrition across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, and this figure could increase to between 23 and 26 million by September 2022, according to the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG). In Somalia, 7.1 million people are now acutely food insecure—including over 213,000 people in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5)—and eight areas of the country are at risk of famine between now and September 2022, with Bay and Bakool regions of particular concern. About 9.9 million people in Ethiopia and some 3.5 million people in Kenya are severely food insecure due to the drought.
Across the three countries, malnutrition rates are alarming: about 4.6 million children are acutely malnourished, including about 1.3 million who are severely acutely malnourished. In Ethiopia, nearly 2.2 million children under age 5 are acutely malnourished, including nearly 705,000 who are severely malnourished. In Kenya, about 942,500 children aged 6-59 months are affected by acute malnutrition and need treatment, including 229,000 severely malnourished, and in Somalia, an estimated 1.5 million children under age 5 face acute malnutrition, including 386,400 who are likely to be severely malnourished, according to IPC.
More than 16.2 million people cannot access enough water for drinking, cooking and cleaning across the Horn of Africa, including 8.2 million in Ethiopia, 3.9 million in Somalia and 4.1 million in Kenya, according to UNICEF. Many water points have dried up or diminished in quality, heightening the risk of water-borne diseases and increasing the risk of skin and eye infections as families are forced to ration their water use and prioritize drinking and cooking over hygiene. Existing water deficits have been exacerbated by very high temperatures, which are forecast to continue until at least September 2022. In some of the worst affected areas in Somalia, water prices have spiked by up to 72 per cent since November 2021. Women and girls are having to walk longer distances to access water—in many instances up to double or triple the distances they would have to walk during a regular dry season—exacerbating their potential exposure to gender-based violence and dehydration. Water shortages are also impacting infection prevention and control in health facilities and schools. In Ethiopia and Kenya, there are already reports of an increase in pregnant women being exposed to infections—the worst of which have resulted in death—following deliveries both at home and at health facilities due to the limited availability of water.
Over 8.9 million livestock—which pastoralist families rely upon for sustenance and livelihoods—have died across the region, including 3.5 million in Ethiopia, 2.4 million in Kenya and over 3 million in Somalia.
Food prices are spiking in many drought-affected areas, due to a combination of macro-economic challenges, below-average harvests and rising prices for food and fuel on international markets, including as a result of the war in Ukraine. In Somalia, staple food prices in drought-hit areas have surpassed the levels recorded during the 2017 drought and the 2011 famine, according to WFP’s price monitoring. In Ethiopia, the cost of the local food basket increased by more than 33 per cent between January and June 2022, according to WFP. Soaring prices are leaving families unable to afford even basic items and forcing them to sell their hard-earned properties and assets in exchange for food and other lifesaving items. There are also repercussions for food for refugee programmes, which are already impacted by reduced rations due to lack of funding support.