- January 2022: Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) conduct an in-depth assessment following the worsening of drought conditions in Somali region and in Borana and Moyale zones of Oromia region.
- 10 February 2022: The Somali Regional Government submits a request to ERCS appealing for support to respond to the drought.
- 1 March 2022: IFRC released 507,108 Swiss francs from the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the ERCS response in Somali region, and Borana and Moyale zones of Oromia region.
- 29 March 2022: IFRC issues a Federation-wide Hunger Crisis Emergency Appeal for 12.5 million Swiss francs to support 500,000 people in the worst affected zones of Oromia, Somalia and in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) regions, for a period of 24 months.
DESCRIPTION OF THE EVENT
The Horn of Africa
Millions of men, women, and children are facing hunger and malnutrition in the Horn of Africa. People are missing meals, parents are going without food for the sake of their children and families are struggling to find enough water to keep their livestock alive. There is serious concern that another failed rain season will bring further devastation to the lives of people who have already endured multiple climate disasters. Drought crises are unfortunately not a new event in the Horn of Africa, and similar situations have been happening with frequency – 2006, 2010 and again in 2016. In this last one, the international community was able to avert famine by investing strongly in the preparedness of communities, which played a major role in strengthening resilience and coping mechanisms in face of a serious drought. This was not the case in 2022, and most people are now bearing the consequences of the drought with exhausted coping strategies. Furthermore, given the constant population growth and the expansion of dry spells, the number of this crisis is impressive, with 14 million people in urgent need of support in the Horn of Africa, and acute malnutrition rates have increased, affecting 5.5 million children.
Intertwined with the drought, the sub-region was also affected by three exceptionally wet seasons, bringing widespread floods, displacement, and a locust outbreak that was the worst in 25 years in Ethiopia and Somalia, and in 75 years in Kenya. This exceptional series of consecutive drought and flood shocks is having devastating impacts on agriculture, rangelands, and water resources, leading to a sharp decrease in food availability and food access due to concerning food production shortages, increases in staple food and water prices, and erosion of livelihoods, which in turn are driving an upsurge in food insecurity and malnutrition.
Finally, the Ukraine Crisis has had a major impact on the Horn of Africa. This is due to the high reliance on cereal imports from Ukraine and Russia, which have since been disrupted due to the conflict. Prices of staple foods are already going up, and it will only get worse, as this supply cannot easily be replaced.
While the sheer humanitarian needs are visible and must be addressed through life-saving humanitarian support in the shortest time possible, there is a recognition that their drivers are deeply rooted in a larger climate-induced hunger crisis that requires a holistic and coordinated approach to build preparedness and resilience. Therefore, IFRC Emergency Appeals responding to the Horn of Africa hunger crisis (Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia) will transition into the IFRC-wide Zero Hunger Pan-Africa approach, which is designed to integrate emergency and early recovery assistance, alongside preparedness and resilience-building activities, in coordination with other humanitarian and cooperation stakeholders, and in support of government's existing policies to address the climate crisis and food insecurity.
People in Ethiopia have endured multiple crises in recent years, such as epidemics, locust infestations, civil unrest, and conflict in the north. In addition, COVID-19 has stopped the country's economy with a serious impact on the most vulnerable. The humanitarian situation and prevailing outlook remain of grave concern. Latest reports indicate that 23 million people in Ethiopia are now in need of humanitarian assistance across the country, due to the combined consequences of the different crisis. Therefore, prior to the drought crisis, Ethiopia was already in a downward spiral.
The drought situation escalated in scale and impact during the first quarter of 2022, resulting in an unprecedented displacement of people and livestock in search of grasslands, and an increase in the number of livestock deaths due to diminishing health conditions, fatigue, lack of water, and long trekking distances.
Crisis levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) are widespread, with the worst drought-affected areas at emergency levels (IPC Phase 4) since February 2022.2 The most affected regions are in the south of the country, including Somali (3 million people in need of assistance), South Oromia (2.8 million people), and SNNPR (1 million people). People living in these same areas barely managed to recover from the severe drought in 2017 only to endure once again harsh conditions, the first signs of which started appearing toward the end of 2020 and which then continued to worsen with the successive failed seasons in 2021. Household food security is extremely constrained as well now, as food production has dropped considerably, and staple food prices remain above the five-year average. And in addition to the pre-existing shocks, the crisis in Ukraine will mean disrupted supply chains of wheat to the Horn of Africa – a region highly dependent on imports from Russia and Ukraine – and even higher prices, which could have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for people who are already facing acute hunger.