Africa drought pushes Kenya and Somalia into pre-famine conditions.

Halkaan ka akhri

UN says that more than 10 million people are affected in areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda.

The worst drought in 60 years in the Horn of Africa has sparked a severe food crisis and high malnutrition rates, with parts of Kenya and Somalia experiencing pre-famine conditions, the United Nations has said.

More than 10 million people are now affected in drought-stricken areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda and the situation is deteriorating, it said.

“Two consecutive poor rainy seasons have resulted in one of the driest years since 1950/51 in many pastoral zones,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told a media briefing. “There is no likelihood of improvement until 2012”.

Food prices have risen substantially in the region, pushing many moderately poor households over the edge.

A UN map of food security in the eastern Horn of Africa shows large swathes of central Kenya and Somalia in the emergency category, one phase before what the UN classifies as catastrophe/famine – the fifth and worst category.

Child malnutrition rates in the worst affected areas are more than double the emergency threshold of 15 per cent and are expected to rise further. High mortality rates among children are also reported.

Drought and fighting are driving ever greater numbers of Somalis from their homeland, with more than 20,000 arriving in Kenya in just the past two weeks, the UN refuge agency UNHCR said on Friday. It voiced alarm at the dramatic rise, noting the average monthly outflow had been about 10,000 so far this year.

Almost half the Somali children arriving in refugee camps in Ethiopia are malnourished, and those arriving in Kenya are little better, Byrs said.

UN humanitarian appeals for Somalia and Kenya, each about $525m, are barely 50 per cent funded, while a $30m appeal for Djibouti is just 30 per cent funded, she said.

Source:  Reuters

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