Critical Food Insecurity Persists in Most Parts of Eastern Africa

By Mary Hearty

With the region likely to record drier-than-normal conditions, critical food insecurity is still expected in most parts of Eastern Africa over the next two months. These include Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and northwestern Tanzania.

This is according to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) 2023 two-month-lead weather forecast.

Speaking during a virtual meeting organized by the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG) in the East and Central Africa region, Eunice Koech, Meteorological Research Assistant at ICPAC said these areas are likely to record below-average rains.

Additionally, she noted that a little bit of rain will be experienced in the northeastern part of Somalia, coastal Kenya and isolated areas in western and central Uganda and a few parts of south-eastern South Sudan.

“This is dire as we are coming from the October-December season where most parts of the eastern areas of the region recorded below average rainfall and are still going to record this,” Koech explained.

In terms of temperature, she said warmer than normal temperatures are expected in most parts of the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) while cooler than normal temperatures are expected in south-eastern Kenya, southern Tanzania and other isolated areas across the GHA.

Currently, there is a humanitarian catastrophe in the Horn of Africa as the region is one of the world’s most food insecure regions, and East and Central Africa have substantially higher prevalence rates than other regions of the world.

According to statistics at the global level, the IGAD region represents 22% of the vulnerable people in need of aid as over 48 million people across the region are critically food insecure, and worse out of which 7 million are in Emergency, 19 million are in crisis, and the most worrying is the 355,000 people as classified by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).

Moreover, the FSNWG forecasted that in January 2023, 32 million people, excluding Ethiopia, are classified in a stressed situation and are in need of continuous assistance to avoid them sliding into a worse food security issue phase.

This number will likely rise during the first quarter of 2023 due to the seasonal rains failing, hiking prices of food and oil, and humanitarian assistance not reaching the needy population.

The negative effects of extreme weather in East Africa are more severe mainly due to the interaction of multiple factors, including high population growth, extreme poverty, poor infrastructure, and overdependence on rain-fed agriculture.

Even in the absence of these factors, a fifth straight failed rainy season will likely be enough to push at least some proportion of the population into severe food insecurity and some cases famine.

Consequently, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has projected that as close to 282,653 children aged 6 to 59 months will suffer from malnutrition including 59,000 children with severe acute malnutrition.

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