Nairobi, Apr 19 (EFE).- Some 20 million people are at a high risk of hunger in the Horn of Africa this year due to a drought in the region and insufficient humanitarian aid, the United Nations World Food Program warned Tuesday.
The UN agency said that desperately needed rains across the Horn of Africa were yet to materialize almost a month into the rainy season.
If the situation continues this could push the number of people in need of food aid from some 14 million to 20 million this year.
Somalia faces the worst scenario with millions already at risk of famine, but the WFP also notes that around half a million people in Kenya “are one step away from catastrophic levels of hunger.”
WFP added that the levels of malnutrition of many families in Ethiopia were well above emergency thresholds.
The economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including the spike in fuel and food prices, has aggravated an already precarious situation in the Horn of Africa.
“We know from past experience that acting early to avert a humanitarian catastrophe is vital, yet our ability to launch the response has been limited due to a lack of funding to date,” Michael Dunford, WFP’s regional director for Eastern Africa, said in a statement.
“WFP and other humanitarian agencies have been warning the international community since last year that this drought could be disastrous if we didn’t act immediately, but funding has failed to materialise at the scale required,” he added.
The agency recalled how a crisis was averted during the 2016-17 drought in the region thanks to the swift deployment of humanitarian assistance.
The outlook for 2022 is far more pessimistic due to a lack of funding and resources amid growing fears a disaster on a massive scale may not be averted in time.
The UN has made an international appeal to raise $473 million to scale-up aid in the region over the next six months.
So far the WFP has only secured 4% of the total funds needed. EFE