13 million people face food insecurity in Eastern Africa – report

April 22, 2013 6:58 pm0 comments by:

ABOUT 12.9 MILLION people in the Eastern Africa region suffer from food insecurity, a new study launched by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) states.

According to the report, published by USAID’s Famine Early Warning System (FEWS Net), the number of food insecure east Africans  decreased from 14.9 million recorded by December last year.

The report states that the improved situation was mainly because better-than-average harvests across many countries in east African region in late 2012 and early 2013 and favorable pastoral conditions.

Well above-normal rains have been widespread since mid-March, marking the onset of the March-to-May rainy seasons over northern and western Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, the Lake Victoria basin, western, southern, and northeastern Kenya, southern and central Somalia, and eastern and southeastern Ethiopia.

The study said planting of crops is ongoing across much of the region and that favorable germination has occurred in several areas.

The March-to-May rains are expected to continue to be normal to well above normal over the western and central sectors of the region, according to forecast by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Application.

April is typically the peak month of this rainfall season, and the rains are expected to continue. Rains were heavier than usual and in areas earlier than usual in March in the eastern sector of the region, according to FEWS Net.

However, food security experts have warned of a looming food shortage in Kenya amid heavy rains that have disrupted transport and farming activities across East Africa.

Kenya Society for Agricultural Professionals chairman Paul Mbuni has said that the immediate impact of the flash floods would be an increase in prices of agricultural produce. He said the destruction of the agricultural infrastructure such as roads and bridges will reduce food supplies leading to food insecurity towards the end of this year.

“If the current rains continue with the same intensity for the next three weeks, we expect food shortages and escalation of food prices in the month of May and June this year,” Mbuni said.

Mbuni said the East Africa nation’s agriculture which is the backbone of the economy is predominantly rain-fed and hence very fragile and prone to disruption by natural calamities and disasters.

 

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