Graphic: Timothy Alexander/African News Agency (ANA) – The Redcross says that just over 146 million Africans are going hungry. For the last four years the annual rains have failed across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and 1.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes in search of food and water elsewhere, the writer says.
By Chad Williams
In the wake of the worst humanitarian food crisis in Africa, the Redcross says that just over 146 million Africans are going hungry.
This is alarming. But what’s even more alarming is the fact that for the last four years the annual rains have failed across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and forced 1.5 million people to flee their homes in search of food and water elsewhere.
Meanwhile, as if things couldn’t decline even further, the World Meteorological Organisation forecasts a fifth consecutive failed rainy season because of drier than average conditions expected for October to December 2022, worsening the crisis that affects millions of people.
According to the WFP, 22 million people are at risk of starvation in the region.
Soaring food prices exacerbated by a war between Russia and the Ukraine, conflict in the Sahel and climate change are plunging parts of Africa into a severe and enduring food crisis, with millions of people in Africa facing extreme hunger.
According to new projections by Unicef, children and their families in Baidoa and Buurhakaba, part of Somalia’s Bay Region, will be facing famine between October and December 2022 unless humanitarian assistance is not significantly increased.
Severe drought coupled with rapidly increasing food prices related to the war in Ukraine has deepened food insecurity, creating a child malnutrition emergency across the Horn of Africa.
The easternmost region of Africa that includes parts or all of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.
On the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the Greater Horn of Africa is experiencing one of the worst hunger crises of the last 70 years.
The UN estimates that over 37 million people in the region are projected to reach the third level of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification scale (IPC3) and higher in the coming months.
This means that the population is in crisis, and only marginally able to meet minimum food needs by depleting essential livelihood assets or through crisis-coping strategies.
What’s even more alarming, is that food insecurity in South Sudan has reached the most extreme levels since independence in 2011, with 8.3 million people comprising 75 per cent of the population facing severe food insecurity.
According to Jocelyn Wyatt, CEO of Alight, and Adan Adar, Horn of Africa Director at Alight, which is a humanitarian aid and disaster relief organisation working to provide healthcare, clean water, shelter, protection, and economic opportunity for displaced people in 19 countries around the world, says that famine is at our door, and we need to act now.
In an article first published on the Global Citizen website on September 29, Wyat said that the livelihoods of pastoralists and farmers have also been significantly affected by the drought, which has caused the deaths of over 7 million livestock, and crops and farms have dried up due to the lack of water and irrigation.
“These groups have had to flee their homes in search of food and water, with many seeking refuge in camps for internally displaced people.”
Wyatt says to avert this catastrophic crisis, both immediate and long-term solutions across the Horn of Africa need to be implemented immediately.
“An immediate response including emergency water trucking, well rehabilitation, food distribution, therapeutic treatments for malnutrition, and shelters could prevent suffering and unnecessary deaths.”
How can we act now
Wyatt says that there is a pressing need for sanitation structures and mobile health clinics to reach people in drought affected areas.
Communities that are dealing with water scarcity also need help implementing hygiene awareness to ensure that people and livestock have separate water sources.
These emergency actions can help now, while long-term solutions are developed that can reduce drought effects, find sustainable water solutions, combat the effects of climate change, and improve livelihood standards
Last week, I spoke to Gift of the Givers founder Dr. Imtiaaz Sooliman on the current food shortage in Africa and he said:
“Africans got to have a sense of belonging to Africa, said Dr. Sooliman. He says this is our continent, and we can’t expect somebody else from outside to help us, ”we have to fix the continent ourselves“.
“You don’t have to be a rich person to do this. We can clean our own streets, take the litter away, there is this huge misconception that you need to have money to make a difference.
“We need to start growing our own crops. In that way, we can share, barter and sell to each other.”
Dr Sooliman said every country is focusing on its own challenges, compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, fuel prices, and conflict on the continent.
But what needs to happen is, African countries need to spend more time trading with each other and remove all barriers to trade, we have a fantastic continent, others see our potential, but we as Africans don’t.
Sooliman said that African leaders need to start working together. We have the resources, we need to manage them effectively.
Williams is a multimedia journalist with the African News Agency (ANA)