Prolonged drought warning in the Horn of Africa

Over 15 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are facing imminent drought and

famine with water scarcity, food shortage and increasing loss of livestock. Displaced

people are experiencing severe shocks as a result of the ongoing phenomenon, which is

likely to worsen in the new year. In addition, vulnerable local communities living in

Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are also likely to experience life-threatening conditions in

coming weeks and months.

The drought is now beginning to claim people’s livelihoods. Aid agencies, together

with UNHCR and governments in the Horn of Africa have raised the red flag concerning the

drought condition which has been a slow-onset disaster throughout 2016. Action must be

taken now. Peoples’ lives are at risk,rdquo; warned Abdirahman Jama, Acting Regional

Director for NRC in the Horn of Africa.

In Somalia:

The Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit reports extreme drought conditions in Bari

Region of Puntland, and parts of Nugaal, Sool and Sanag. Large parts of Awdal and Togdheer

in Somaliland, and Mudug, Galgadud, Bay, Gedo, Lower Juba, Middle Juba and Lower Shabelle

are experiencing extreme drought conditions.

There is an acute water shortage in Bay and Bakool regions due to poor rainfall

during the Deyr season. This is the second consecutive year when local communities have

registered a poor harvest. Many households are migrating in search of food and water,

heading towards Baidoa and Mogadishu. Buurhakaba is one of the most severely affected

areas, where a drum of water costs US$5 up from $2 just 3 months ago. In parts of

Somaliland, some communities are travelling a staggering 125km to find water. Water

consumption has dropped to just 3 litres per person per day, which is way below the Sphere

Minimum water use for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene of 15 litres per person per


In Kenya:

Over a million people in Kenya are affected by drought, with those in the northern Arid

and Semi-Arid Lands region, and in coastal areas facing greatest food insecurity. Poor

households in parts of Laisamis in Marsabit, Tana North in Tana River, and Fafi, Balambala

and Dadaab in Garissa County -where refugees and vulnerable host communities live – are

experiencing worrying levels of food insecurity.

The National Drought Management Authority has issued drought Early Warnings

covering 6 regions. Classified as ‘Alarming’, the Garissa County early warning report

indicates increasing food scarcity in Dadaab and Balambala sub-counties. Pastoral areas

have the highest number of households with poor access to food.

In Ethiopia:

An estimated 9.7 million people, up from 5.6 million, require emergency food assistance in

2017 as a result of a new drought affecting southern and south-eastern regions. Water

shortage dues to the late onset, erratic and poor autumn rains are affecting Somali and

Oromia regions.

In response to the aggravated conditions, NRC and 15 other humanitarian agencies,

under the umbrella of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Disaster Preparedness for East and

Central Africa (IAWG), have agreed on the following recommendations for urgent action:

Governments and humanitarian actors should:

Work with market actors to ensure urgent access to water by providing vouchers or

cash to vulnerable people, and as a last resort undertake water trucking.

Scale up social protection mechanisms, and work with market actors to implement

cash-based interventions in response to urgent food, livestock and livelihoods


Where necessary, provide direct food assistance, emergency support for livestock

and agricultural inputs to farmers, so they can take advantage of any rain that falls.

IGAD and the UN should:

Urgently lead and coordinate resource mobilisation through the IGAD Drought

Disaster Resilience Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI) platform and other IGAD mechanisms,

to raise the visibility of this crisis and prompt a greater response.

Make special efforts to engage new donor countries in the Middle East and Asia in

relation to the drought, and ensure they make commitments in response.

Undertake mediation with rival parties in areas of conflict to ensure humanitarian

actors have access to affected communities, enabling them to deliver lifesaving


Donors should:

Deliver urgent funding to provide lifesaving aid for people in need of food and

water, and support the recovery of people who have lost their assets and livelihoods,

including through the immediate expansion of social protection mechanisms.

Source:Norwegian Refugee Council.