Severe drought affects millions in Eastern Africa

15 April, 2011
Severe drought has affected the villages in the south of Somaliland, particularly the Midwest regions and several farmers have lost their livestock. Credit: IRIN/Mohamed Amin Jibril
Severe drought has affected the villages in the south of Somaliland, particularly the Midwest regions and several farmers have lost their livestock. Credit: IRIN/Mohamed Amin Jibril

The failure of the October to December 2010 rains in the Eastern Horn of Africa has left nearly 8.4 million people food insecure and requiring emergency assistance in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and the Karamoja region in Uganda. Drought has led to substantial harvest failure, deteriorating pasture conditions, decreased water availability and livestock losses. Lack of access to affected areas, high food prices, human and livestock diseases and the ongoing insurgency in Somalia are all exacerbating the situation.

In Ethiopia, emergency water trucking and rehabilitation and maintenance of water supply schemes are top priority, but the response has covered less than 50 per cent of on-the-ground requirements. The World Food Programme is reporting critical resource shortages in the food pipeline, and new cases of measles have been reported in areas affected by drought.

The education sector has also been affected as an increasing number of school children and teachers migrate in search of pasture and water. For example, in Somalia, more then 400 schools countrywide have closed as a result of the drought, affecting nearly 55,000 pupils since December 2010. In Ethiopia, just under 60,000 drop-outs have been reported.

According to the most recent humanitarian bulletin from Somalia, data from 12 April shows persisting drought conditions in most parts of Somalia that will negatively affect food security and water availability. However, climate models predict that there is an increased likelihood of near normal rainfall in the country during the rainy season (April to June).

The National Meteorological Agency indicated near-normal rainfall in parts of Ethiopia as well, but below-normal rains are still forecasted in the lowlands of the country. New meteorological data suggests that the current La Niña conditions will likely dissipate around May and June 2011.

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