The driest conditions in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia in the past 40 years has prompted the United States government to contribute an additional $200 Million USD to humanitarian efforts in the region. It is estimated that over 20 million people lack access to food, water, and medicine.
Through online conversation with journalists, Sarah Charles of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) spoke about how the drought has impacted the lives of millions in the Horn of Africa. "Drought frequency and severity are increasing in the region, as are humanitarian needs, exposing the catastrophic trend of climate change, which disproportionately affects the world's poorest communities. 1.5 million livestock have perished already, and crops have been destroyed in the worst-affected areas.”
She continued: “Conflict over scarce resources has erupted in some areas, including Kenya and southern and south-eastern Ethiopia. An alarming number of children are acutely malnourished, and a devastating report from Somalia details young girls being forced to marry in exchange for food and water.”
The US government will provide an additional $200 Million USD in aid for food and medical supply distribution to millions in the region. This will bring US government assistance to drought victims to more than $360 Million USD this year.
However, that figure represents only a fraction of the funding required. According to United Nations humanitarian agencies, the region will require $4.4 Billion USD in order to scale up relief efforts fully. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the drought affects more than six million people in the Horn. Over 750,000 people have fled their homes, searching for water, food, and pasture. Somalia alone has a population of approximately 3 million internally displaced people.
In even more dire news, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at the United Nations, Martin Griffiths, stated that 2 million children in the Horn of Africa face starvation. Aid organizations attempting to assist hungry people in northern Ethiopia have been hampered by the volatile security situation in the region.
Sarah Charles of USAID, points out that the problem is particularly acute in the Tigray region. "In Tigray, we are confronted with near-unprecedented barriers to access in bureaucratic impediments, conflict, violence, and difficulty reaching those most in need of assistance.”
A slow start to the rainy season has fuelled fears that the drought and its consequences will worsen in the Horn. Humanitarian agencies assert that even if adequate rains arrive, they will be unable to quickly alleviate the suffering endured by millions due to the drought.