The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is set to launch a response plan of 138 million U.S. dollars to avoid an impending humanitarian catastrophe in the Horn of Africa, reported US News.
A third consecutive year of poor and inadequate rains is posing a major threat to food security in countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia that are already reeling with natural resource limitations and conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and locust invasions during 2020-21.
The FAO has warned that some 25.3 million people are likely to face high acute food insecurity by the middle of the year. The UN organization fears that if nothing is done, the Horn of Africa would rank among the world’s worst current food crises.
Notably, the Kenyan and Somalian governments have already declared drought emergencies. According to the UN, at least 6.4 million people in Ethiopia, 2.9 million in eastern Kenya, and more than three million people in Somalia have been affected by drought.
“We know from experience that supporting agriculture at moments like this is hugely impactful, that when we act fast and at the right moment to get water, seeds, animal feed, veterinary care, and much-needed cash to at-risk rural families, then hunger catastrophes can be averted,” said Rein Paulsen, the agency’s Director of Emergencies and Resilience.
The FAO official said the bulk of the plan’s funding is urgently needed by the end of February, to provide critical assistance to highly-vulnerable communities. The funding will be used to purchase seeds and inputs for drought-stricken farmers in time for the crucial March planting season.
Animal feeds and nutritional supplements will be provided to herding communities to ensure that their livestock can continue to produce milk. Water will also be transported into collapsible reservoirs to be established in remote areas.
The FAO plan aims to help and save the livelihoods of an estimated 1.5 million people living in rural areas.