A combination of recurring drought and conflict has left 21 million people across Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan in urgent need of food assistance.
The critical hunger crisis is threatening lives and forcing millions of families to flee their homes. Outbreaks of cholera and diarrhoea have pushed families with restricted access to safe water and basic healthcare to the limit.
Beyond the threat of hunger and disease, millions of children across the four countries are estimated to be at risk of dropping out of school and children are becoming more exposed to exploitation through child marriage, trafficking, prostitution, and recruitment into armed groups.
In recent months, parts of all four countries have had their coping mechanisms further stretched by recent storms and flooding. Areas that have suffered severe drought have suddenly seen abnormally heavy rains in a very short period and the intensely dry land cannot absorb water fast enough, causing flash flooding.
The arrival of rains
A powerful tropical cyclone hit northern Somalia and Somaliland in May, dropping an entire year’s worth of rain in just a few days. More than 700,000 people, including hundreds of thousands of children, have been affected. Well above average rainfall has also hammered down on areas across Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan.
The arrival of rains was once welcomed in drought-stricken areas. However, the weather has been so extreme that it has destroyed hopes of rains leading to meaningful recovery in many areas across the region.
Flooding has devastated crops and farms. Homes have been swept away leaving thousands more displaced. The risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera is significantly higher.
While the drought may be over in some places, children who were already vulnerable are now in an even more critical situation.
Meanwhile, many regions throughout the four countries that haven’t been affected by the rains continue to grapple with the ongoing drought without access to enough food or water.