GENEVA - The worst drought in the Horn of Africa in more than 40 years looks almost certain to persist after the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday that forecasts for October-December show a high chance of drier-than-average conditions.
The latest outlook confirms the fears of aid agencies which have been warning for months about the worsening consequences of the drought for Ethiopia, Somalia and parts of Kenya, including a risk of another famine in Somalia following one there a decade ago that killed hundreds of thousands of people.
"Sadly, our models show with a high degree of confidence that we are entering the 5th consecutive failed rainy season in the Horn of Africa," said Guleid Artan, Director of the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), the WMO’s regional climate centre for East Africa.
"In Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, we are on the brink of an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe," he added.
The drought has coincided with a global rise in food and fuel prices, pushed up by the war in Ukraine, that has hit parts of Africa hardest. The World Health Organization says over 80 million people in the 7 countries spanning the region – Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda – are estimated to be food insecure.
"The WHO is very concerned about this situation. It does lead to many families taking desperate measures to survive," said Carla Drysdale, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization told a Geneva press briefing.
Between 2010 and 2012, around 250,000 people died of hunger in Somalia, half of them children.
A U.N. humanitarian appeal for $1.46 billion for Somalia had received more funding in recent weeks and was now 67% funded, U.N. data showed, but spokesperson Jens Laerke said more was needed in order to avoid "large-scale death". The larger appeal for $3.01 billion for Ethiopia had received about $960 million, or close to one third of the total.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Additional reporting by Elias Biryabarema in Kampala; Editing by Toby Chopra)