File Photo: World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley wrapped up a visit to drought-ravaged Somalia, where over seven million people close to half the population are acutely food insecure and 213,000 are already facing famine-like conditions. Photo courtesy of WFP official website
WFP Regional Director for Eastern Africa Michael Dunford said the funds will help the WFP keep life-saving assistance going and invest in long-term resilience in the Horn of Africa.
"Conflict, climate extremes and economic shocks: the Horn of Africa region is facing multiple crises simultaneously. After five consecutive failed rainy seasons, flooding has replaced drought, killing livestock, damaging farmland, and further shattering livelihoods," Dunford said in a statement issued in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.
The WFP warned that the Horn of Africa is lurching from crisis to crisis, adding that the longest drought in recorded history has given way to rains and flash flooding.
"And now the outbreak of conflict in Sudan is forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes," Dunford said.
The WFP said that by the end of 2022, it was distributing food assistance to a record 4.7 million people in Somalia but in April, funding shortfalls forced it to reduce this to 3 million people.
It warned that without additional funds, further cuts will have to be made in emergency food assistance caseload in Somalia to just 1.8 million by July.
This, it said, means that almost 3 million people will not receive support despite their continuing needs.
According to the WFP, when the region's long-awaited rains arrived in March, they should have brought some relief, but instead, flash flooding inundated homes and farmland, washed away livestock, and closed schools and health facilities, forcing more than 219,000 people from their homes in southern Somalia, where 22 people were also killed.
The WFP said the drought of the last three years has left more than 23 million people across parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia facing severe hunger, with mortality and malnutrition rates remaining unacceptably high and consecutive failed harvests and high transport costs pushing food prices far beyond the reach of millions in the region.
Dunford said the WFP's rapid expansion of life-saving assistance helped prevent famine in Somalia in 2022.
"But despite the emergency being far from over, funding shortfalls are already forcing us to reduce assistance to those who still desperately need it," he said.
"Without sustainable funding for both emergency and climate adaptation solutions, the next climate crisis could bring the region back to the brink of famine."
The UN agency said it will take years for the region to recover, and humanitarian assistance is a lifeline yet limited humanitarian resources are being stretched further still by the conflict in Sudan, which has sent more than 250,000 people fleeing into neighboring countries such as Ethiopia and South Sudan, where food insecurity is already desperately high.