The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has said that forecasts for October-December show high chances of drier-than-average conditions in the Horn of Africa as the worst drought in more than 40 years looks almost certain to persist.
“Sadly, our models show with a high degree of confidence that we are entering the 5th consecutive failed rainy season in the Horn of Africa,” said Guleid Artan, the director of the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), WMO’s regional climate centre for East Africa.
“In Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, we are on the brink of an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe,” he added.
The drought has coincided with a global rise in food and fuel prices, pushed up by the war in Ukraine, that has hit parts of Africa hardest.
In June, the World Bank said an estimated 66.4 million people in the Horn of Africa region were forecast to experience food stress or a food crisis, emergency, or famine by July. New estimates based on the latest forecasts were not immediately available.
“The WHO is very concerned about this situation. It does lead to many families taking desperate measures to survive,” said Carla Drysdale, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization told a Geneva press briefing.
At least 10 million children are suffering as four rainy seasons have failed in the space of two years – killing vast swathes of livestock and crops and drying up water sources.
More than 1.8 million children across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia require urgent treatment for life-threatening severe acute malnutrition. More than one million people across the region have been driven from their homes, in search of food and water.
Worse still, the effect of the war in Ukraine is set to tip more families in the Horn of Africa over the edge, with increasing food and fuel prices and reducing the availability of wheat imports.
The war has also abruptly drawn millions of dollars away from longer-running humanitarian crises like those in Somalia, declared one of the world’s most neglected crises by the Norwegian Refugee Council.