This week, UNICEF warned that an explosion of child deaths in the Horn of Africa is imminent – unless the world responds immediately. What's the origin of this crisis? Here are 3 reasons why the number of food-insecure people has doubled this year:
1. The Russian invasion of Ukraine.
You may be wondering what the war has to do with East Africa. Ukraine and Russia produce 1/3 of the world's wheat. Much of it feeds people in need.
In 2020, Ukraine was the top supplier to the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP). The WFP is the world's largest humanitarian organization for food aid.
Russia's blockade of Ukraine's major seaports is keeping 23.5 million tons of food stuck in the country. These are grains, like corn and wheat, and oilseeds, like sunflower. This estimated to be enough food to feed 400 million people.
Russian troops have set mines along the ports in the Black Sea, blocking all movement of goods in and out. Moving the food out by train is proving difficult. Only 1% of grain has been successfully exported by train.
2. Climate change has created a biblical drought.
The Horn of Africa is experiencing the worst drought in 40 years. Rains that usually fall between March and May have failed again this year.
The majority of people who are poor in Africa work as farmers. There are 100 million smallholder farmers across sub-Saharan Africa. They represent 80% of the population living in poverty on the continent.
The problem is they rely on rain: Currently, more than 95% of these farmers do not irrigate their farms. Instead, they depend on seasonal rainfall, which is increasingly unreliable due to climate change.
In summary, those most in need are dependent on rains that haven't come.
The same is true for pastoral farmers. Millions of the cattle and goats that provide families with milk, meat and income have died.
3. The pandemic has caused severe economic hardship for people living in developing countries.
Most families living in extreme poverty in Kenya spend an average of 40% of their expenses on food.
Food and fuel costs are now at record prices, so many can't afford basic staples. According to the World Bank, one-third of households in Kenya continue to go hungry due to a lack of food. Half of all households report they cannot afford basic staples.
Food costs for items like maize and beans have risen sharply because of low supply. Sadly, the price pastoral farmers receive for selling goats has dropped 30% in some regions. This is because the goats themselves are in such poor shape.
Many of the programs The Adventure Project supports are based in Kenya.
This includes our hunger program helping farmers grow more food.
If you read this and are thinking, "Ugh, I want to help!", you are not alone.
We are crafting easy ways you can join us in responding to the crisis in the next few weeks. Can you join us?
If you are eager to learn more and help, can you add your name and email below? We will send you the details first.
PS: If you want to read more (or have a good cry, like I did while researching this post) below are the most recent press coverage about the unfolding crisis. We will update it as news breaks.
AP: No mother should have to lose her child. Owliyo Hassan Salaad has watched four die this year. A drought in the Horn of Africa has taken them, one by one. [Article].
Bloomberg: Drought Ravaging East Africa Bankrupts Farmers, Empties Schools [Article]
Economist: The coming food catastrophe. War is tipping a fragile world towards mass hunger. Fixing that is everyone’s business [Article]
Reuters: The war in Ukraine is fueling a global food crisis. [Article]
UNICEF Press Center: 'Explosion of child deaths' imminent in Horn of Africa if world does not act immediately [Article]
Bloomberg: Climate Adaptation Sounds Easy. It’s Not for Most People in the World [Article]
Al Jazeera: UN plan to get Ukraine grains out faces hurdles [Article]