East and Horn of Africa expect worst drought in decades
MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) – Farmers in the East and Horn of Africa are bracing for the most severe drought in 40 years as authorities warn weather agencies that they have reported higher temperatures and less rain than normal in March and April.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development said rainfall is expected to fall for the fourth consecutive year, raising fears of increased malnutrition, threats to livelihoods and severe risks for the region’s 29 million people. Meteorologists link the current drought to human-induced climate change, which is increasing the temperature in the Indian Ocean, which, in turn, is increasing the frequency of cyclones.
As in much of the continent, in the East and the Horn, the main economic mainstay is agriculture, which is dependent on rainfall, making it more vulnerable to extreme weather events. Mama Charity Kimaru, who practices mixed farming by raising cattle and planting grains and vegetables on her 30-acre (12-hectare) farm in Nyandarua, about 126 km north of Nairobi, is one of those they are preparing for the worst. Kimaru says rising temperatures in recent months have starved her livestock of grazing and frustrated crops she had sown in anticipation of the long rainy season.
The weather agency said in February that the region should prepare for a “busier than average” long rainy season, which normally runs from March to May, but revised its forecast this week.
“The rains of March, April and May are crucial for the region and unfortunately we are facing not three but possibly four consecutive failed rainy seasons,” said Workneh Gebeyehu, executive secretary of the intergovernmental agency. . “This, coupled with other stressors such as conflicts in our region and in Europe, the impact of COVID-19 and macroeconomic challenges, has caused a high level of food insecurity across the Greater Horn of the ‘Africa”.
Lower average rainfall in 2022 could prolong already very dry conditions that have not reached this level since 1981. Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, which will be hit hard by reduced rainfall, are already experiencing severe famine .
The lack of rainfall during last year’s short rainy season and the current drought during the long season have caused crop failures and livestock deaths, driving up food prices and increasing inter-communal conflict over scarce pastures. and declining water resources.
“Whenever we have intense cyclones in the southwest Indian Ocean, we prepare for a long dry season in the eastern and Horn regions,” said Evans Mukolwe, former scientific director of the United Nations. “That’s because cyclones soak up a lot of the moisture, depriving the region of much-needed rainfall. That’s been the pattern for decades.”
Aid organizations are already worried about how the worsening impacts of climate change will affect the region in the coming decades.
“This is not the first drought in the Horn and it probably won’t be the last,” said Sean Granville-Ross, regional director for Africa of the humanitarian agency Mercy Corps. “As the climate emergency escalates, droughts will become more frequent and more severe. People affected by climate change cannot wait for one crisis to end to prepare for the next.
“The international response must prioritize immediate needs while allocating additional resources to smart, long-term interventions that will make a long-term difference and help communities become more drought resilient,” he added. .
The UN humanitarian agency warned last week that the current drought “risks becoming one of the worst climate emergencies in recent history in the Horn of Africa”, noting that the $1.5 billion needed to help some 5.5 million people in the Region.
The Associated Press’s climate and environmental coverage is supported by several private foundations. The AP is solely responsible for the content.