After five seasons without meaningful rainfall in the Horn of Africa, famine is projected in parts of southern Somalia in the spring without reliable food aid, a top USAID official told senators on Wednesday. "Preventing famine and large-scale deaths across the region in the coming year will require sustained and robust humanitarian assistance from the international community," said Sarah Charles, head of USAID's Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance.
Nearly one in 10 people worldwide suffer from hunger, an increase of 150 million since the pandemic struck in 2020, and the numbers are sure to worsen, said the annual UN hunger report on Wednesday. “The global price spikes that we are seeing as a result of the crisis in Ukraine threaten to push countries around the world into famine,” said the leader of the World Food Program.
Up to 20 million people in drought-struck parts of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia could face acute food insecurity by September as livestock and crops struggle to survive, said 14 humanitarian and meteorological agencies. Four rainy seasons in a row have failed, a streak not seen in 40 years, and forecasts say there is a concrete risk that the October, November and December rains could fail, too.
Swarms of food-devouring desert locusts threaten food security for nearly 10 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, said the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group on Monday, describing the infestations as the worst in 25 years in Ethiopia and in 70 years in Kenya. The group, which focuses on central and eastern Africa, said the locust upsurge threatens the coming agricultural season.
In a “global early warning” report, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization lists eight nations with a high risk of hunger and says famine is possible in three of them: Yemen, South Sudan, and Somalia.
The number of hungry people in northeastern Nigeria has dropped by half, to 2.6 million, since mid-year, according to analysis by regional groups, which give credit to improved security and scaled-up humanitarian assistance.
The Saudi-led blockade of ports into Yemen "is limiting supplies of fuel, food and medicines," said a senior UN official in the country. "The lives of millions of people, including 8.4 million Yemenis who are a step away from famine, hinge on our ability to continue our operations and to provide health, safe water, food, shelter and nutrition support." The statement by humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick follows an assessment by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) that there is a credible risk of famine in 2018 in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria.
An estimated 80 percent of Yemen's food supply arrives by boat, so the recent closure of its ports makes famine a likelihood across the country, says the Famine Early Warning Systems Network. Meanwhile, the UN says that warfare and climate change are driving up hunger rates in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nearly one-fifth of Ethiopia is in need of food aid, as a punishing drought kills off livestock in areas where people — especially pregnant women and children — rely on milk for nutrition, Reuters says.
Drought in the Horn of Africa has killed the livestock of nomadic herders and forced thousands of pastoralists into refugee camps, dependent on food aid. Authorities in Ethiopia, while dealing with the crisis, are looking into longer-term adaptations, such as introducing irrigated agriculture and small farms in the country's Somali region, "a land long known for just herding animals," says the Washington Post.
Governments are likely underestimating the risks of climate change to agriculture, especially in the event of simultaneous extreme weather events in key areas, say researchers from the U.K.’s Met office. Using 1,400 climate model simulations, the researchers discovered that the probability of severe drought was greater than if judged solely from observations.
Famine often starts in rural areas and must be prevented in rural areas, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in a report on hunger in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, collectively one of the world's largest food crises in 70 years. Some 20 million people in the four nations are at risk of famine, a figure that could grow to 30 million if there is no additional action, said FAO.
Some 17 million people in Yemen, 60 percent of the population, "are now facing hunger," due to armed conflict and a rapid rise in food insecurity since last summer, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. "Without additional humanitarian and livelihoods support, Taiz and Al Hudaydah, two governorates accounting for almost a quarter of Yemen's population, risk slipping into famine."
Although global food supplies are robust, the world faces "an unprecedented situation" of four threats of famine in multiple countries simultaneously, says the assistant director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
President Trump would pay for his proposed $54-billion increase in military spending in fiscal 2018 by cutting domestic discretionary programs by 15 percent, said the think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "The president's proposal would continue a severe, multi-year squeeze" on discretionary programs such as education, job training, clean water, and medical and scientific research, said the think tank.
Three U.N. agencies said war and a collapsing economy have put 100,000 people at risk of starvation in South Sudan. An additional 1 million are on the brink of starvation, said the agencies, which warned, "The total number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the severity and spread of the food crisis."
Drought is depriving millions of Somalis of enough to eat, the nation's president said in an appeal for international aid. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, created by the USAID, said famine is possible in Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, all in East Africa. Armed conflict has aggravated the effects of drought.
A UN official working on humanitarian aid in Africa warns of "a famine unlike any we have seen anywhere" in northeastern Nigeria unless aid is provided immediately, says the Washington Post. "The staggering hunger crisis created by (Boko Haram) insurgents has been largely hidden from view."
The worst drought in 35 years in southern Africa will imperil the food supply of 40 million people until next March, when crops planted in coming months are ripe for harvest, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. "Widespread crop failure has exacerbated chronic malnutrition in the region," said FAO, which appealed for $109 million to equip farmers and grazers ahead of the growing season.