For many years now, people in the Horn of Africa have struggled to survive both conflict and the devastating impacts of climate change. Now, Covid-19 has caused huge food shortages and brought people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Republic of Sudan, Somalia and South Sudan to the brink of a hunger crisis.
The Horn of Africa is the easternmost peninsula of the African continent, excluding African islands. The number of countries of which the region comprises varies.
Some publications recognize it as being home to four countries, (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia), however others define the Horn of Africa as comprising eight countries; Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda. For the purposes of this piece, we will recognize the Horn of Africa as the latter.
Its however challenging to note that most people who live in the Horn of Africa are farmers, reliant on land and livestock to survive. Additionally, the Per capita income, literacy and life expectancy are among the lowest in the world.
Also, there are over 200 languages and dialects spoken across the Horn of Africa. There are even more ethnic groups that are further broken down into tribes and clans. Similarly, there has almost always been conflict in the region for some reason or another, whether it be for political, ethnic, economic, or religious purposes.
The Horn of Africa also alludes to the shape of this area because it sticks out like that of a rhinoceros horn from the continent. It is known as one of the most inhospitable places on Earth because the landscape is sand and volcanic rock and temperatures can reach up to 60 degrees Celsius.
Its important to note that the East and Horn of Africa is the region with one of the most serious levels of hunger and malnutrition in the world. Conflict and climate change have forced many people in the Horn of Africa to flee their homes, and the impact of Covid-19 has worsened the situation.
There are now more than 8.8 million internally displaced people and 4.5 million refugees across East Africa, primarily due to conflict and violence in Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. With little or no money, and no chance of employment, displaced people are especially vulnerable to food insecurity.
Moreover, millions of people, particularly those living in urban areas, lost their livelihood and income opportunities due to Covid-19, while the closure of schools affected school feeding programmes in several countries.
An an estimated 38 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the region, and the situation could escalate dramatically.
To put this into context, in 2020, Sudan, Ethiopia and South Sudan were among the 10 countries with the worst food crises globally.
In the first half of 2020, Somalia ranked amongst the top five countries in the world with the highest numbers of new displacements. There was an estimated 514,000 new disaster-related displacements (for example, climate-related), and 189,000 new displacements associated with conflict and violence.
Overall, flooding displaced almost a million people in 2020 and destroyed essential infrastructure, property and tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural land. By the end of 2020, 17% of the population were displaced.
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