MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) — Farm workers in the East and Horn of Africa are bracing for their worst drought in 40 years, as authorities warn of higher temperatures and lower-than-normal rainfall were recorded by meteorological agencies in March and April this year.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development said the rains were likely to fail for the fourth consecutive year, raising fears of increased cases of malnutrition, threats to livelihoods and severe risks for 29 million people in the region. Meteorologists are linking the ongoing drought to human-induced climate change that is causing increased warming in the Indian Ocean, causing more frequent cyclones.
Like most of Africa, the economic mainstay of the East and the Horn is agriculture, which is fueled by rainfall, making it vulnerable to extreme weather events. Mama Charity Kimaru, who practices mixed farming by raising cattle and planting grains and vegetables on her 30-acre farm in Nyandarua, some 126 kilometers north of Nairobi, is among the farmers bracing for the worst results . Kimaru says rising temperatures over the past few months have deprived her livestock of pasture and crops she had planted in anticipation of the long rainy season have failed.
The weather agency previously said in February that the region should prepare for a “wetter than average” long rainy season, which normally runs from March to May, but the agency revised its previous forecast this week. .
“The rains of March, April and May are crucial for the region and unfortunately we are looking at not just three, but potentially four consecutive failed seasons,” said Workneh Gebeyehu, executive secretary of the intergovernmental agency. “This, together with other stressors such as conflicts in our region and in Europe, the impact of COVID-19 and macro-economic challenges, has led to acute levels of food insecurity in the Greater Horn. of Africa”.
Below-average rainfall for 2022 is likely to prolong already extremely dry conditions not seen to this degree since 1981. Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia – which will be severely affected by reduced rainfall – are already in the midst of a terrible famine. .
Lack of rainfall during the short rainy season at the end of last year and persistent drought during the current long rainy season have already led to crop failures and livestock deaths, leading to high food prices and inter-community conflicts concerning the scarcity of pastures and the reduction of water resources.
“Whenever we have intense cyclones in the southwest Indian Ocean, we always prepare for a long dry season in the eastern and Horn regions,” said Evans Mukolwe, the former scientific director of the UN. “That’s because cyclones suck 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 isn’t the first drought in the Horn, and it probably won’t be the last,” said Sean Granville-Ross, Africa regional director for aid 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 before preparing for the next.
“The international response must prioritize immediate needs while allocating additional resources to smart, long-term interventions that will drive long-term change and help communities become more drought resilient.”
The UN humanitarian office warned last week that the current drought “risks becoming one of the worst climate-induced emergencies in recent history in the Horn of Africa”. He also said the $1.5 billion drought response appeal needed to help some 5.5 million people in Somalia remains severely underfunded.
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