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Action needed to prevent food crisis in Greater Horn of Africa

Around 10.7 million people are currently food insecure and in a nutrition stress situation across Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Karamoja region in Uganda.

These are among 23.4 million people who are currently food insecure in the Greater Horn of Africa, Executive Secretary (ES) Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Amb. (Eng.) Mahboub Maalim has said.

Speaking on Wednesday during a media briefing on famine Amb., Maalim said the region is at a crisis stage and indicators are there to show that the situation was worsening due to the environmental conditions and forecasted rainfall deficits.

“The delay in the start of the March to May long rains are building on already dry conditions due to poor October to

December rains over some parts of the Greater Horn of Africa,” he said.

Amb.Maalim noted that analyses show that rainfall levels through mid-April will likely be amongst the driest on record since 1981 in some areas especially southern Kenya, most of Somalia and Somali region of Ethiopia and localized areas of Uganda.

Rainfall predictions for the remaining season of 15th April to end of May, he added suggest the parts of the region will still receive below average rain.

“If the forecasted rainfall deficits materialization in April and May, this would lead to a typical increase in food
insecurity and livestock movement likely to peak from June to October”, the ES said.

Dry conditions and high temperatures between January and March have already led to deteriorations in pasture and water availability and affected livestock body conditions leading to reduced milk production and driving pastoralists’ fortunes to plummet.

Amb. Maalim warned that the Uganda- Kenya boarder where pasture conditions are expected to remain acceptable could suffer from possible competition over resource and result in localized conflicts,

Crop production he added will also be below average in marginal agriculture areas of Kenya, Somali and Ethiopia.

This, along with the potential of lower than average production by key regional players such as Uganda and Tanzania, Amb. Maalim said could cause price increases and reduce access of poor households to basic food supplies.

Cyril Ferrand from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said its time that member countries shelf plans that they have put in place and redirect their development programmes in the crisis situation to look at the mitigation.

“Immediate early action is therefore needed to intervene early rather than wait for the food crisis to loom,” Ferrand

The  Kenya Meteorological Department yesterday warned Kenyans to brace for more dry spells and the rain is not coming soon.

By  Wangari  Ndirangu

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