Hunger Rising Sharply Across East Africa – FAO Alert

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In short
The poor rains recorded across the region have left crops scorched, pastures dry and thousands of livestock dead - according to an alert released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization FAO today.

Hunger is rising sharply across the East Africa region following the third consecutive season without sufficient rain to grow crops.

The poor rains recorded across the region have left crops scorched, pastures dry and thousands of livestock dead - according to an alert released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today.

The alert issued by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) warns that the third consecutive failed rainy season has seriously eroded families' resilience, and urgent and effective livelihood support is required.

The most affected areas, which received less than half of their normal seasonal rainfall, are northeastern and southwestern Uganda, northern and eastern Kenya, northern Tanzania, southeastern Ethiopia and southern Somalia.

The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in the countries, currently estimated at about 16 million, has increased by about 30 percent since late 2016. In Somalia, almost half of the total population is food insecure. 

"This is the third season in a row that families have had to endure failed rains - they are simply running out of ways to cope," FAO's Director of Emergencies Dominique Burgeon said adding that support is needed now before the situation rapidly deteriorates further. FAO economist Alessandro Constantino expounds.

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According to Constantino, conditions across the region are expected to further deteriorate in the coming months with the onset of the dry season and an anticipated early start of the lean season.

In several cropping areas across the region, poor rains have caused sharp reductions in planting, and wilting of crops currently being harvested. Despite some late rainfall in May, damage to crops is irreversible and the plight is being made worse by an invasive fall army worm, which is eating its way across the continent.

In Uganda more than half the districts have been invaded by the worm while in Kenya, the pest has so far affected about 200 000 hectares of crops.
 
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Across the region, cereal prices are surging, driven by reduced supplies and concerns over the performance of current-season crops. Prices in May were at record to near-record levels in most markets and up to double their year-earlier levels.      

 

About the author

Sylvia Nankya
Sylvia is an Editor and Media Trainer with Uganda Radio Network. She has been a URN staff member since 2013. Sylvia has previously worked as a reporter and news anchor with Radio One (2001-2009) and with Vision Group (2009-2011). Six of her active years in Journalism were spent covering the Parliament of Uganda.

Over the past few years, Sylvia has worked to promote the positive development of societies recovering from conflict through training journalists on choices of stories, how they report issues and use of appropriate language in covering conflict and post-conflict situations.

She is an Alumni of RNTC- Holland, Les Aspin Centre for Government at Marquette University-WI, USA and a Community Solutions Fellow.