Drought in the horn of Africa alarming

What you need to know:

  • More than 58 million people in the region have been affected and the situation is expected to worsen this year, especially in Ethiopia, Somalia, and several parts of Kenya

Arusha. Experts have expressed concern over the prolonged drought that is currently ravaging the Horn of Africa.

They say years of failed rains have led to massive displacement of the communities and fueled conflicts.

“Drought being experienced in the region is hitting communities, economies and ecosystems,” said Dr Pamela Kaithuru, an expert with the Kenya Meteorological Department.

Unfavourable weather conditions have also led to high food prices “which continue to impede food availability and access.”

According to her, more than 58 million people in the vast region were, “in conditions of food insecurity.” The meteorological expert added that the situation would worsen this year (2023) especially in Ethiopia, Somalia and several parts of Kenya.

Dr Kaithuru noted that there had been a noticeable rise in health-related issues as a result of the ongoing drought and other effects of climate change.

This, she explained, was more pronounced with psychological and mental well-being of individuals and vulnerable communities.

The situation, she went on to say that it was aggravated by the fact that most economies in the Greater Horn of Africa were much dependent on weather and climate.

“The worsening crisis shows how climate change threatens lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people,” Dr Kaithuru said.

Worse, she pointed out, is the hidden stress individuals within these areas go through.

The region is currently struggling with the effects of climate change, manifested in extreme events of prolonged low rainfall.

Dr Kaithuru’s assertion is supported by the State of the Climate in Africa 2021 report by the World Meteorological Organization. The report indicates that Africa’s climate has warmed more than the global average since pre-industrial times (1850-1900).

It shows that extreme weather and climate change are undermining human health and safety, food and water security. Also impacted are socio-economic development activities as a result of disruptions in the rainfall patterns, and shrinking of key lakes, which threaten to aggravate conflicts and displacement.

The alarming scenario follows a survey commissioned by the Nairobi-based African Coalition of Communities Responsive to Climate Change.

Experts have called for immediate action in order to reduce the stress and dangers caused by the prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa.

Last week the drought management agency in Kenya issued a statement on the situation. It said the situation remained critical following failed rains in October-December last year, as well as the previous four consecutive failed rainfall seasons.

The drought is blamed on climate change, a phenomenon associated with global warming on the planet.