Horn of Africa drought likely to become worse than 2011 catastrophic famine
Drought trends in the Horn of Africa are now worse than they were during the 2011 famine in which hundreds of thousands of people died, with a climate research center warning of below-normal rainfall that is expected during the rainy season over the next three months in parts of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.
“In parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda that have been most affected by the recent drought, this could be the 6th failed consecutive rainfall season,” the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center said. Drier than normal conditions have also increased in parts of Burundi, eastern Tanzania, Rwanda and western South Sudan, the center added. While famine thresholds have not been reached, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that 8.3 million people – more than half Somalia’s population – will need humanitarian assistance this year.
The longest drought on record in Somalia, which has lasted almost three years, claiming tens of thousands lives, has prompted Workneh Gebeyehu, the IGAD’s chief, to urge governments and partners to act “before it’s too late”. He echoed a similar warning in January by the UN resident coordinator for Somalia that excess deaths in the country will “almost certainly” surpass those of the famine declared in the country in 2011, when more than 260,000 people died of starvation. About 1.3 million people, 80% women and children, have been internally displaced in the east African nation by the drought sweeping the Horn of Africa.