Drought, conflict drive high humanitarian needs in Horn of Africa

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) - Persistent drought, complex conflict and political dynamics continue to drive high humanitarian needs and serious protection concerns in the Horn of Africa, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in a new report released on Monday.

In its ‘Horn of Africa Humanitarian Outlook January-June 2018’ , the UN office said the impact of drought continues to be felt in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, particularly in areas that have
suffered further failed or poor rains towards the end of 2017.

A fall armyworm outbreak in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda further compounded the drought impact.

"La Niña conditions are expected to cause below-average rainfalls in south-central Somalia, southeast Ethiopia and eastern Kenya through March 2018," the report said.

Large swathes of the Horn of Africa have experienced consecutive episodes of severe drought—with some regions suffering from four consecutive failed rains—and available projections indicate that many areas will continue to be impacted by climatic shocks in the coming six months.

According to OCHA, there is a 70-80 per cent likelihood of weak La Niña conditions persisting through March 2018.

In the Horn of Africa, La Niña events are typically associated with below-average rainfall, with Somalia (south-central), Ethiopia (south-east) and Kenya (eastern) considered to face the highest risks.

In Somalia, extreme climatic conditions—including repeated cycles of drought and pre-famine
conditions—have increased vulnerabilities, resulted in the loss of crops, livelihoods and livestock, and weakened purchasing power.

The 2017 deyr rains (October-December) started late and performed below average in many parts of the country, marking the fourth consecutive poor rainy season.

As a result of below-average rainfall in consecutive seasons, pasture and water resources are well below normal, impacting cropping activities for the deyr season.

Forecasts indicate that dry conditions are likely to continue during the 2018 gu season (April-June). Below average production and limited regeneration of pasture and water recharge are therefore expected in the first six months of 2018, and a further deterioration in food security is considered likely.

In Ethiopia, the 2017 deyr/hagaya (October-December) season performed better in many south-eastern areas compared to recent seasons.

However, the rainfall was erratic and spatial distribution has not led to significant
improvements in many of the most affected areas.

In Kenya, the 2017 short rains season (October-December) saw some improvement in vegetation conditions and water availability and access in some Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties.

However, the impacts of the 2017 drought persist in several of the hardest-hit ASAL counties and, as at January 2018, six counties across the country -Isiolo, Kajiado, Tana River, Garissa, Kilifi and Wajir- were classified in alarm drought status.

The 2018 long rains (March – May) are expected to lead to better livestock productivity and
crop production.

Despite containment efforts, fall armyworm (FAW)—an insect native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas—is expected to remain a threat to food insecurity in the Horn of Africa in 2018.

FAW has now been detected in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, as well as neighbouring countries, such as South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

Most countries in Eastern Africa have managed to control FAW to some degree through regular monitoring, pesticide application and hand picking of FAW larvae. However, key crops in the region are still expected to be impacted in 2018, compounding the consequences of
drought in several areas.

In Kenya, FAW has been reported in 40 out of the 47 counties, and the Food and Agricultural Organization has indicated that there is a high probability that it could impact short rains crops.

Depending on the extent and effectiveness of pest management strategies, there is also a possibility that FAW could impact 2018 long rains crops.

In Ethiopia, FAW infestations—mainly affecting maize and sorghum crops—were initially reported in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region (SNNPR) in February 2017, subsequently spreading to the key growing areas of the western highlands.

-0- PANA AR 29Jan2018

29 january 2018 16:32:02

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