East and Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes Region: UNHCR Drought Situation Response Update #5 – December 2022

Situation Overview

The Horn of Africa region continues to experience the longest and most severe drought on record, threatening millions with starvation. Relentless drought and high food prices have weakened many people’s ability to grow crops, raise livestock and buy food. The dramatic food insecurity situation in drought affected areas is expected to persist, driving high humanitarian needs well into 2023, with a high likelihood of a sixth failed season in MarchMay 2023. Harvests have yielded little and water sources have dried up. As conditions continued to worsen, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee in search of water, pasture and assistance.

According to UNHCR’s latest dashboard of displacement affected populations, by the end of December 2022, some 1.70 million had been internally displaced in Somalia and Ethiopia, while over 90,000 refugees have crossed borders from Somalia and South Sudan into drought affected areas of Kenya and Ethiopia this year.

Somalia is in the midst of a climate emergency that is showing little signs of abating and is uprooting lives and livelihoods of millions. Five consecutive below par rainy seasons, brought about by climate change, has resulted in the longest drought the country has witnessed in more than 40 years. According to the UNHCR-led Protection and Return Monitoring Network (PRMN), the catastrophic drought has displaced more than 1.4 million people since 2021. Thousands of Somalis have also fled to neighbouring countries to seek assistance. Many people have lost their livelihoods and their coping capacities have been stretched too thin to recover from the drought.

The situation is further compounded by persistent insecurity and armed conflict, soaring food prices, and extreme poverty. These multiple shocks have exacerbated protection risks and pre-existing inequities. Although the projected famine in Baidoa and Buur Hakaba districts between October and December 2022 was averted, according to the Integrated Food Security Classification (IPC) analysis from 13 December, there is a strong possibility of famine between April and June 2023, if the next rainy season fails and if humanitarian assistance is not sustained. Over 8.3 million Somalis are expected to face crisis level (IPC Phase 3) of acute food insecurity by June 2023, including 727,000 facing catastrophic levels of extreme hunger (IPC Phase 5).

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees