The World Meteorological Organization warns millions of people in the greater Horn of Africa will likely face a fifth consecutive season of insufficient rains. According to the U.N. weather agency the terrible four-year long drought in the Horn of Africa is set to continue for another year.
World Meteorological Organization spokeswoman Claire Nullis says the seasonal climate outlook for the region, which was issued Thursday, bears bad news for millions of people who already have suffered the longest drought in 40 years.
“The predictions show high chances of drier than average conditions across most parts of the region. In particular, the drought affected areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are expected to receive significantly below rainfall until the end of the year.”
The WMO notes the October to December season contributes up to 70 percent of the annual total rainfall in the equatorial parts of the greater Horn of Africa, particularly in eastern Kenya. It says the lack of rain is likely to extend to parts of Eritrea, most of Uganda and Tanzania.
Last month humanitarian agencies and the regional bloc IGAD issued an alarming report about the growing number of people suffering from acute hunger in the region.
World Food Program spokesman Tomson Phiri says drought is not a new phenomenon in the Horn of Africa. However, he says what is happening now is more severe and is occurring with greater frequency.
“Hunger and malnutrition is worsening across all drought-affected areas. And there is a very real risk of famine in Somalia”, says Phiri. “I think this is well documented. This is on the record. It is in the public domain…No one has called for a famine now, but it does not mean it may not be declared in the coming months. It is very much a real threat.”
U.N agencies estimate more than 50 million people in the greater Horn of Africa suffer from acute food insecurity. The director of the WMO’s regional climate center for East Africa, Guleid Artan, warns the region is on the brink of an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.