The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Tuesday said that an estimated 50.6 million or 20 percent of the population in the Horn of African region was staring at hunger and required food aid before the end of this year.
Experts said the dire food situation is being compounded by the impacts of COVID-19 global pandemic, desert locust invasion and ongoing climatic shocks.
“Conflict and insecurity, adverse macroeconomic shocks and protracted food insecurity from past shocks are additional problems in the region,” the experts said in a statement during the launch of food security and nutrition response strategy.
Workneh Gebeyehu, IGAD executive secretary urged the member states and partners to provide the technical and financial support required to avert widespread food insecurity.
He said that the regional body has developed guidelines for a coherent approach to improve the food security situation.
Gebeyehu urged humanitarian and livelihood assistance for population in pastoral, urban and rural regions already grappling with food insecurity.
He appealed for enhancement of regional multi-hazard response coordination and advocacy to address challenges brought about by disease outbreaks, desert locust invasion and climatic shocks.
Gebeyehu urged the Horn of African states, which include Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, to promote and facilitate regional trade and cross-border access to markets and strengthen safeguarding mechanisms for pastoralists and pastoral areas.
He recommended operationalisation of the IGAD disaster response fund as well as establishing a regional operations center for emergencies.
According to IGAD, the eastern African region is considered one of the most food-insecure globally, with nearly 28 million people in need of food aid.