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The shocking figures which lay bare the looming famine in east Africa

A poor start to the rainy season in the Horn of Africa has added to fears that the worst drought in decades could soon have catastrophic results, with the crisis worsened by the war in Ukraine driving up food prices and diverting international attention.

Water is becoming so scarce that people are forced to dig into dried riverbeds in search of it.Credit: ITV News

More than 18.4 million people including many children are already in dire need of food aid in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, which are now staring at an unprecedented fourth consecutive failed rainy season, having received below average rains so far this March to May.

On top of one of the worst droughts in decades and huge funding shortfalls, the war in Ukraine is threatening to push families in the Horn of Africa further into misery.

The blockade of the port of Odesa on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast is preventing vital grain supplies from reaching the outside world, leading to shortages and increased global prices.

Figures focusing on the region show just how dire the situation is for the 89 million people who live in the Horn of Africa’s 11 countries which after four failed rainy seasons is suffering from the worst drought in 40 years.

These are the grim statistics which show the severity of the situation across the region:

  • One person is likely dying of hunger every 48 seconds in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. 
  • This time last year 50 million people were classed as ‘food insecure’ (a lack of a consistent access to food. Now it is 89 million, an increase of 90%, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
  • In the UK the average person spends between six percent and 10% of their monthly income on food. In east Africa, the same measure if between 40% and 60%, meaning any increase in the cost of food has a more severe impact, WFP figures show.
  • Due to deteriorating drought conditions, more than 7.1 million people, out of a total population of almost 16 million in Somalia are likely to experience food crisis (a long and extreme shortage of food which results in deaths) or worse food insecurity conditions between June and September. Moreover in the same period 2.1 million in Somalia are expected to face a food emergency and by September, 213,000 will be facing famine, according to the WFP.
  • In Somalia, 386,000 children face severe malnutrition, a figure equivalent to the total number of under-fives in Scotland and Northern Ireland, according to Save The Children (STC).
  • The number of people experiencing extreme hunger in the three countries now has more than doubled since last year – from over 10 million to more than 23 million. 
  • In Kenya, 4.1 million people are suffering from extreme hunger
  • A survey from Help Age (formerly Help The Aged), shows that 73% of older people in the three countries reported they do not have access to enough food. In Ethiopia, it was 92%.   
  • Help Age also found that more than half (56%) of older people in the three countries are currently only eating one meal per day 
  • In Marsabit in Kenya’s north, more than a quarter of a million people (270,000) are facing starvation because of the drought – more than 75% of the region’s population – according to the Red Cross.
  • A survey from Help Age (formerly Help The Aged), shows that 73% of older people in the three countries reported they do not have access to enough food. In Ethiopia, it was 92%.   
  • Help Age also found that more than half (56%) of older people in the three countries are currently only eating one meal per day 
  • In Marsabit in Kenya’s north, more than a quarter of a million people (270,000) are facing starvation because of the drought – more than 75% of the region’s population – according to the Red Cross.

Source: ITV

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