After five consecutive below-average rains, the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa is expanding and deepening.
Combined with insecurity and macroeconomic volatility, the impact of the drought on food and nutrition security has been devastating. Across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, an estimated 22 million people are now acutely food insecure because of the drought. The malnutrition situation is also critical. Some 5.1 million children across drought-affected areas of the three countries are acutely malnourished in 2023, with dire implications for their health, growth and survival. Concerningly, the upcoming March-May 2023 rains are also forecast to be below-average. Should these rains fail, and humanitarian assistance not be delivered at scale, food insecurity will continue to deteriorate.
Regardless of how the 2023 rains perform, extremely high humanitarian needs will persist through 2023 while a full recovery from a drought of this magnitude will take years. To address the devastating drought-induced hunger and malnutrition across the region, WFP is pursuing an integrated dual track approach; meeting immediate life-saving food and nutritional needs while simultaneously building resilience to extreme climate variability.
Life-saving: WFP has scaled-up its crisis response to reach record numbers of people, pushing deeper into hard-to-reach areas and averting the worst outcomes so far. This includes:
Relief food assistance: Delivering life-saving relief through food and cash to the most food-insecure people in the most drought-affected areas.
Nutrition: Preventing and treating moderate acute malnutrition in young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Logistics and common services: Augmenting the logistics, air services and telecommunications capacity of governments and partners to deliver urgent humanitarian assistance to the most affected areas.
Life-changing: Life-saving food and nutrition interventions are complemented by investments that protect development gains and strengthen communities’ resilience to shocks. These interventions include capacity strengthening for national and local governments as first line responders in crises. Activities include:
Livelihoods, food systems and climate resilience: Supporting families, markets and communities to make resilience gains and create pathways for sustainable recovery.
School-based programmes: Providing nutritious school meals to children in areas severely affected by drought, supporting education, human capital and food security.
To address this wide array of sectors, WFP is collaborating with a broad range of partners. Across the three most droughtaffected countries, WFP has 130 cooperating partners, 96 of which are local and national NGOs (74 percent), a testament to WFP’s strong commitment to the localization agenda, and ensuring communities have agency over their own response.
WFP is already on the ground, providing millions of people with life-saving assistance every day. Since mid-2021, thanks to the generosity of its partners, WFP has more than doubled relief assistance across drought-affected areas of the Horn of Africa from 4 to over 8.8 million food relief beneficiaries every month. However, humanitarian needs continue to outstrip WFP’s substantial expansion.
To this end, this document provides an overview of WFP’s regional response to the drought and accompanying financial requirements. In 2023, WFP is urgently calling for USD 2.4 billion to help avert a major humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa and support 8.8 million people affected by the drought with monthly lifesaving relief. Responding now is necessary to avert a humanitarian catastrophe, prevent suffering, protect dignity and save lives.