The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) have warned that timely and effective support to the agricultural sector in eastern Africa is urgently required, due to prolonged drought conditions in the area.
In a special alert on the Global Information and Early warning system on Food and Agriculture (GIEWS), the FAO warned that drought conditions, exacerbated by the outbreak of fall armyworm in 2016, is leading to poor harvests, rising food prices and low prices for livestock in the region.
Due to drought, the region expects failed maize harvests for the third consecutive year. The FAO warns that farmers’ resilience capacity is diminishing because of the recurring conditions.
“In pastoral areas, severe emaciation of animals and widespread deaths are reported. In several cropping areas, poor rain has caused sharp reductions in plantings and wilting of crops being harvested.”
The worst affected areas include parts of Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
In the alert, the organisation warns that households in some of these areas are expected to “enter the next lean season much earlier than usual” and intervention is needed to prevent famine.
According to the alert, many areas are experiencing below-average rainfall, leading to several other problems.
The FAO warns of continuous pasture and water shortages, poor livestock health leading to low milk production and birth rates, shrinking livestock herds and a decline in livestock prices caused by the poor condition of animals.
Poor harvests of grain like maize and sorghum, means prices of basic food and animal feed are rising. Unskilled labour wages also seem to decrease as a result of more people looking for work.
In contrast, southern African countries seemed to rebound after similar conditions experienced in 2015/’16. Countries like South Africa and Zambia produced excess amounts of grain like maize and have started export negotiations with countries like Kenya.