Home > Crisis > Crisis in the Horn of Africa

FAO in emergencies app

Download now!

Recent Appeals

Documents

Projects

Other Resources

Connect with us

Crisis in the Horn of Africa

Crisis in the Horn of Africa

Crisis in the Horn of Africa

In 2011, the Horn of Africa (HoA) faced one of the driest years since 1950/51, causing a food crisis that escalated into famine in parts of the region, such as southern Somalia. By the end of July 2011, some 12.4 million people were in need of urgent assistance not only to save their lives, but also to recover their livelihoods; this number nearly doubled in the subsequent months given the rapid deterioration of the situation.

In order to both respond to the crisis and ensure that communities are better equipped to cope with droughts in the future, FAO has assisted local populations and governments with:

  • Rehabilitating water sources and establishing small-scale irrigation systems
  • Distributing seeds, tools and other agricultural inputs
  • Providing plant and animal disease control
  • Carrying out animal vaccination campaigns
  • Supporting coordination of food and nutrition security strategies, conducting real-time analysis of changing conditions and issuing timely reports of the current status of hazards, risks and vulnerabilities in the region
  • Implementing cash-for-work activities

About 80 percent of people in HoA rely on agriculture and pastoralism as their primary source of food and income. In the fight against hunger, it is essential that more focus be placed on restoring, protecting and strengthening the means of agriculture and pastoral dependent groups to continue their way of life and to increase their resilience to future climatic shocks.

Compared to the beginning of the 1990s, productivity in some parts of the region (for staple food crops per land area) has strongly increased. However, with rapid population growth, reduced arable land by subsistence farmers and migration to marginal lands, the deepening effects of climate change and continued marginalization of Horn of African economies in the global economy, there is increased pressure on the Horn’s relatively scarce resources. The situation has been exacerbated by high local cereal prices, excessive livestock mortality, conflict and restricted humanitarian access in some areas, which contribute to the challenges in the efforts to break the cycle of food insecurity.

Drought is a chronic hazard in the region, and has been for centuries. Pastoralism, and in particular agropastoralism, is a dynamic and sustainable livelihood system that has adapted to the particularly harsh conditions in many areas of the HoA. In fact, about 80 percent of the people in this region rely on agriculture and pastoralism as their primary source of food and income. In the fight against hunger, it is essential that more focus be placed on restoring, protecting and strengthening the means of agriculture and pastoral dependent groups to continue their way of life and to increase their resilience to future climatic shocks. 

The provision of agricultural assistance promotes stability and thus prevents food crises from worsening in these affected countries, while also limiting the negative impact of further reductions in food supplies. It also contributes to preventing displacement, unemployment, the sale of productive assets, the worsening of health indicators and dependence on food aid and other forms of relief assistance.

Related Topics

 - Thanks to a decent harvest and a strong response from the international humanitarian community, the United Nations declared an end to famine in southern Somalia in early 2012. More than ...READ MORE
 - An estimated 3.3 million people are food insecure in Sudan today. With 80 percent of Sudan’s rural population relying on agriculture for their food and income, the sector plays a ...READ MORE
 - An estimated 12.3 million people are currently in need of assistance in the Horn of Africa, including 146 000 people in Djibouti, 4.5 million in Ethiopia, ...read more
22/09/2011
 - Somalia remains in crisis. Areas of southern Somalia affected by famine now include the Bay region, Bakool agropastoral livelihood zone, Lower Shabelle region, agropastoral areas of ...read more
14/09/2011
 - A total of 4 million people are now in crisis in Somalia and 750 000 are at risk of death in the coming four months. Funding ...read more
07/09/2011
 - FAO calls for stepped up response - FAO today called for increased efforts to stem the food crisis in the Horn of Africa as famine spread to a ...read more
05/09/2011
 - The food security situation continues to deteriorate in the Horn of Africa. Funding is urgently needed to both save lives and livelihoods, and build longer-term resilience ...read more
29/08/2011
 - Predictable, sustained support for rural economies and livelihoods needed to avoid future crises - As world governments met today in Ethiopia for an international pledging conference aimed ...read more
25/08/2011
 - The Horn of Africa is experiencing the worst food security crisis in the world today. Over 12 million people are in urgent need of life- and ...read more
18/08/2011
 - Food assistance to save lives today, support for agriculture and pastoralism to prevent repeat crises tomorrow - Governments, UN agencies and international organizations meeting in Rome ...read more
18/08/2011
 - High-level operational meeting called in Rome - Urgent and concrete measures intended to heighten the international response to the worsening crisis in the Horn of Africa ...read more
11/08/2011
 - Immediate support vital - As famine spread to three more areas of southern Somalia and threatened to engulf the whole of the country's south, FAO warned ...read more
05/08/2011
1 2 3 4 5