By Silas Apollo
At least 55 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda are currently facing hunger and starvation, with an estimated 30 million people also expected to face a similar situation by the end of this year.
A report by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) shows that more people in countries that make up IGAD, continued to grapple with a severe food crisis in 2022, as many faced acute hunger and poor nutrition.
IGAD, in its latest data released from the Regional Focus of the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) 2023, says that the statistics mark what it believes is the highest number of acutely food-insecure people in the region over the past five years.
The report, which was launched in Nairobi yesterday, says that the new figure is an increase of over 13 million people recorded in 2021.
The report also highlights the devastating reality faced by 301,000 people who experienced Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in 2022, with Somalia and South Sudan accounting for 214,000 people and 87,000 people respectively.
It argues that the population facing acute food insecurity in the IGAD member states has rapidly increased since 2020, by over 10 million additional people each year.
This increase, the report notes, is largely attributed to a number of multiple shocks, including the unprecedented three-year drought that was witnessed in the Horn of Africa and the record-breaking flooding in South Sudan. It has also been blamed on protracted conflicts within the region, and macroeconomic challenges driven by the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
“This situation is inextricably linked to climate extremes and disasters, conflict and insecurity, and economic shocks, which are increasingly intertwined with spiraling negative consequences for tens of millions of children, men, and women,” said IGAD Executive Secretary, Workneh Gebeyehu.
Projections for 2023, according to IGAD, also paint a grim picture, with up to 30 million people expected to require humanitarian food assistance in Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda.
Of this number, an estimated 7.5 million people in Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan are projected to face large food consumption gaps and adopt emergency coping measures.
An additional 83,000 individuals are also expected to face extreme food shortages (Catastrophe, IPC Phase 5) in the most severe drought and conflict-affected areas of the region, particularly in Somalia and South Sudan.
These projections, however, do not account for the recent clashes in Sudan, which will undoubtedly exacerbate the already poor food insecurity situation, according to IGAD.
“Even if the March-May 2023 rains bring some relief from the Horn of Africa’s worst drought in more than four decades, the region will continue to deal with its catastrophic consequences in 2023 and beyond,” IGAD says.
“The recovery of pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihoods from the devastating three-year drought will take years and humanitarian assistance continues to be critical until households and communities can recover,” the report adds.
IGAD further argues that in Sudan, the impact of the ongoing conflict on food availability and access is expected to drive a rapid deterioration in the food security and nutrition situation, with Khartoum and the region of Darfur most affected.
By mid-May, more than 1 million people had fled their homes with around 843 000 people newly displaced internally and more than 250,000 people displaced to neighbouring countries.