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Poor rainfall aggravates hunger situation in east Africa: FAO

In an alert released on 14 July 2017, FAO stated that poor rainfall across the east African countries worsened hunger and left crops scorched, pastures dry and thousands of livestock dead

The most affected areas include central and southern Somalia, southeastern Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, northern Tanzania and northeastern and southwestern Uganda. FAO said that these regions received less than half of their normal seasonal rainfall.

"This is the third season in a row that families have had to endure failed rains. They are simply running out of ways to cope," said Dominique Burgeon, director of emergencies of FAO.

Due to poor rainfall, there is a sharp reduction in planting and wilting of crops in several cropping areas across the aforementioned region. 

In addition, fall armyworm spread to the east and worsened the situation. In Kenya, the pest affected about 200,000 ha of crops and in Uganda more than 111 districts were affected.

In Somalia’s lower Shabelle region, which is the main maize producing area, poor seasonal rainfall caused drought situations that affected more than 85 per cent of the cropland.

Low rainfall caused shortfall in localised cereal production in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda’s southwestern and northern districts. In Kenya, central, southeastern and coastal areas had been affected by drought.

According to FAO, around 16mn people in the region had been affected by poor rainfall, up by 30 per cent since 2016. In Somalia, almost half of the total population were suffering from food insecurity.

FAO said that the conditions are expected to further deteriorate in the coming months with the onset of the dry season and an anticipated early start of the lean season.

"Support is needed now before the situation rapidly deteriorates further," Burgeon reinforced.