Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | Xinhua | At least 9.5 million livestock have died across the drought-affected Horn of Africa (HOA) countries of Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has disclosed.
“Over 9.5 million livestock have died since the drought started, eroding the primary source of livelihood, income, and nutrition for pastoralist communities,” the WFP said in a report issued Friday.
The WFP said that the drought due to five failed rainy seasons has had a devastating impact on the region’s livestock, a crucial source of food and income for many communities. Figures from the agency show that an estimated 4 million livestock in Ethiopia, 3 million in Somalia, and 2.5 in Kenya have died.
The WFP said the drought-induced catastrophe is further worsened as much of the Horn of Africa region is enduring abnormally high food prices because of macroeconomic difficulties exacerbated by domestic cereal shortages and global food and fuel supply shocks.
The United Nations had previously warned that drought-induced livestock deaths are consequently affecting children’s development as they have less access to milk, eventually negatively affecting their nutrition.
According to figures from the WFP, an estimated 5.1 million children are acutely malnourished across the drought-affected regions of the three countries.
The WFP further said the drought is also affecting access to education as families have been forced to move in search of livelihoods.
It said an estimated 3.6 million school-going children in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia face the risk of dropping out of school and girls are the most affected.
Noting the humanitarian needs are projected to increase should there be another poor rain season, the WFP said a multifaceted response, including both short-term relief efforts and longer-term solutions such as sustainable water management and climate adaptation measures, are required.
The WFP said it urgently requires 2.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2023 to meet the lifesaving relief food needs of 8.8 million drought-affected people across the region.