Rough dry season feared in Horn of Africa

June 7, 2011 at 4:35 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 7 (UPI) -- Humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa has thus far failed to keep pace with the impact of a devastating drought, U.S. aid officials said Tuesday.

The eastern region of the Horn is in its second season of rainfall that is well below average and has led to a cascade of crop failures and higher grain prices that are affecting more than 7 million people, the U.S. Agency for International Development said in a written statement.

"In the absence of a significant humanitarian intervention, crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity are expected to persist, if not deepen, through at least early 2012," the agency warned.

Analysts said the most recent rainy season from March through May was a flop with precipitation less than 30 percent of normal in southern Somalia and northern Kenya. The result has been a serious die-off of livestock and prices for some grains increasing 240 percent.

Malnutrition has impacted about a quarter of the population and food assistance is required in parts of Ethiopia as well.

USAID said that since the summer months are historically the dry season in the Horn of Africa "food security is unlikely to improve significantly over the coming months and will deteriorate further in some areas."

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