UN warns of escalating threat to food security across East Africa due to heavy rains

World Food Programme says nearly 3M affected as relentless rains displaced over 1.2M in region

18:01 - 8/12/2023 Friday
File photo
File photo

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Friday warned of the escalating threat to food security across East Africa due to persistent heavy rains.

“Eastern Africa is being lashed by the extremes of climate change – from no water to too much water is resulting in a catastrophe,” Michael Dunford, WFP regional director in Eastern Africa, said in Nairobi.

The deluge, WFP warns is reversing the region's nascent recovery efforts following a prolonged drought less than a year ago.

WFP revealed that the worst is yet to come, with nearly 3 million people affected in East Africa, over 1.2 million of whom have been forced to leave their homes after the relentless downpours.

“Severe floods are causing devastation, illustrating how an erratic climate continues to punish the region. With more rain forecast, I fear that the worst is yet to come,” Dunford said.

Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya are grappling with the most severe consequences of this crisis, with Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, and Uganda also feeling the impact.

The heavy rains, anticipated to persist until early 2024, have raised concerns about the region's ability to handle the growing humanitarian challenges.

The affected nations are not only contending with the immediate displacement of populations but also grappling with the potential long-term consequences on agricultural productivity and food supplies.

A tragic toll has swept across the region, with reports of hundreds of lives lost, including a devastating count of 160 confirmed deaths in Kenya alone.

The situation is particularly alarming given East Africa's recent struggle with a prolonged drought, the worst in 40 years, and the current rains are threatening to undermine any progress made in recovery efforts.

The WFP emphasized the urgent need for international support to address the burgeoning crisis, focusing on providing immediate relief to those displaced and implementing sustainable solutions to mitigate the long-term impact on food security in the region.

Dunford called on developed nations, currently at the UN Climate Change Summit in Dubai, to step up and assist countries like Somalia and Ethiopia, which are disproportionately paying a high price for the climate crisis".

El Nino, a climatic phenomenon marked by periodic warming of sea surface temperatures, stands as the main reason behind the current floods in East Africa.

Its influence has triggered substantial alterations in rainfall patterns, elevating the risk of extreme weather events, in this case, floods.

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3 months ago