13 million people face severe hunger in the Horn of Africa, U.N. warns

Sacks of wheat being distributed by the World Food Program
Wheat is distributed by the World Food Program to displaced people in Ethiopia.
(Claire Nevill / World Food Program)
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Drought conditions have left an estimated 13 million people facing severe hunger in the Horn of Africa, according to the United Nations World Food Program.

People in a region including Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya face the driest conditions recorded since 1981, the agency reported Tuesday, calling for immediate assistance to forestall a major humanitarian crisis.

Drought conditions are affecting pastoral and farming communities across southern and southeastern Ethiopia, southeastern and northern Kenya, and south-central Somalia. Malnutrition rates are high in the region.


The WFP says it needs $327 million to look after the urgent needs of 4.5 million people over the next six months and help communities become better-equipped to deal with extreme climate shocks.

In parts of Ethiopia’s Tigray region, people now eat only green leaves for days. The United Nations calls it the world’s worst hunger crisis in a decade.

Sept. 20, 2021

“Three consecutive failed rainy seasons have decimated crops and caused abnormally high livestock deaths,” the agency — which won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize — said in a statement. “Shortages of water and pasture are forcing families from their homes and leading to increased conflict between communities.”

More forecasts of below-average rainfall raise the specter of worsened conditions in the coming months, it said.

Others have sounded the alarm over a fragile region that also faces sporadic armed violence.

The U.N. children’s agency said earlier this month that more than 6 million people in Ethiopia are expected to need urgent humanitarian aid by mid-March. In neighboring Somalia, more than 7 million people need urgent help, according to the Somali NGO Consortium.