NAIROBI/ADDIS ABABA, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations humanitarian agency on Monday appealed for urgent funding to help avert a humanitarian disaster that is looming in the Horn of Africa amid a severe drought.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) warned in its latest report issued in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, that lives will be lost if there is no more funding.
UNOCHA said the people in the Horn of Africa, who are suffering the worst drought in over 40 years, face the threat of starvation following four consecutive failed rainy seasons in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
"Forecasts indicate that the October-December 2022 rainy season could also fail, leading to an unprecedented catastrophe. Immediate action is required to prevent the worst in the months ahead," UNOCHA warned in its latest report on drought.
The UN agency said at least 19.4 million people are affected by the drought that began in October 2020 across the region. It said some 18.6 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are living with acute food insecurity and rising malnutrition, warning that the number could rise to 20 million by September.
At least 7 million livestock, which the drought-affected families rely upon for sustenance and livelihoods, have died across the region since October 2020, the report said.
The UNOCHA said the impact on livestock is consequently affecting children to have less access to the milk they need, in which malnutrition rates are rising across the three affected Horn of Africa countries.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has recently disclosed that more than 7.1 million children are acutely malnourished in the drought-affected parts of the region, including about 2 million children who are severely acutely malnourished.
Meanwhile, the UNOCHA said more than 11.6 million people cannot access enough safe water for drinking, cooking and cleaning as existing water deficits worsened by the heat, which is forecasted to continue until September 2022.
It warned that many water points have dried up or become unsafe, heightening the risk of water-borne diseases and increasing the risk of infections.
In some of the worst affected areas in Somalia, water prices have increased up to 72 percent since November 2021, according to the UNOCHA.
According to UNOCHA, food prices are increasing in many drought-affected areas due to the below-average harvests and rising prices on international markets.
Moreover, floods, COVID-19, and the desert locust infestation have affected communities throughout the region, and millions of people in Ethiopia and Somalia are living through conflict.
The report came barely a week after the UN and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc, said that more than 50 million people are expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity this year across seven east African countries -- Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.
According to the 2022 edition of the IGAD Regional Focus on Food Crises, released on July 22 by the World Food Program (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and IGAD, conflict, climate extremes, economic shocks, rising costs and now the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on food and energy prices are pushing millions toward starvation in eastern Africa.