Extreme weather events due to the climate crisis are becoming the new normal in the Greater Horn of Africa. Just two years after the 2016/2017 drought and one year after flooding in 2018, back-to-back droughts and floods in 2019 have led to rising needs and compounded the humanitarian consequences of conflict and violence in multiple locations. In addition to loss of lives, livestock and crops, as well as population displacement, the above normal rains and cyclonic activity in late-2019 and early-2020 contributed to a desert locust upsurge that has affected Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and spread to Uganda,
South Sudan and Tanzania.
Of the 24.7 million severely food insecure (IPC 3+) people across the Greater Horn of Africa, an estimated 10.25 million are living in areas affected by desert locusts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The desert locusts—the most dangerous migratory pest in the world—are expected to continue to breed and spread in the coming months, coinciding with the start of the next planting season.
Without urgent effective control measures, the locusts could severely impact the food insecurity of households already struggling to cope with multiple shocks. The locust upsurge also comes at a time when the region is battling multiple communicable disease outbreaks. So far in 2020, there have been over 2,000 cases of cholera in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, while Sudan was declared cholera free as of 23 January 2020.
Measles outbreaks are ongoing in Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan, while cases of chikungunya and leishmaniasis have been reported in Kenya, dengue and polio in Ethiopia and hepatitis E in South Sudan. Across the region, some 12.3 million people remain forcibly displaced—including 8.1 million internally displaced people and 4.2 million refugees—making them particularly vulnerable to these repeated shocks.