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Millions across Horn of Africa facing 3rd season of severe drought, says UN

UN Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO) on Monday said millions across the Horn of African region are facing the third season of severe drought.

“Urgent action needed NOW and during the 6 months to avert catastrophe. Swift aid for drought-affected farmers and herders needed to avoid a hunger crisis” Rein Paulsen, the FAO director of emergencies, said in a statement on Monday.

The FAO calls for $138 million to assist 1.5 million vulnerable people affected by the drought in rural areas of Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, the statement added.

Drought is among the most devastating of natural hazards — crippling food production, depleting pastures, disrupting markets, and, at its most extreme, causing widespread human and animal deaths, according to the UN.

“The third severe La Nina‑induced drought episode in a decade, and the region is on the verge of a catastrophe if humanitarian assistance is not urgently scaled up,” the FAO said in a previous statement on the devastating climate change-related drought in the Horn of African region.

Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia have already been suffering from the impact of multiple shocks since late 2019, including a desert locust upsurge — the first in 70 years — the coronavirus pandemic and its socioeconomic implications, abnormally high food prices, and protracted conflict and insecurity.

“In Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, the worst affected countries, projections indicate that some 25.3 million people will be facing high acute food insecurity by mid-2022 — if that scenario should materialize, it would place the Horn of Africa among the world’s largest-scale food crises,” the FAO announced Monday.

Somalia’s drought has killed at least 13 people, including children, since the start of the drought late last year, regional authorities told Anadolu Agency over the phone.

In November last year, Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble declared the situation a “state of humanitarian emergency.”

Somalia witnessed one of the worst famines in 2011 that killed over 26,000 people, according to the UN.