Horn of Africa drought to worsen with fifth failed rains, UN warns

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The devastating Horn of Africa drought is set to get worse, the UN’s weather agency predicted Friday, warning that the region was on the brink of an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.

The area is already going through its worst drought for 40 years and a fifth consecutive failed rainy season is now highly likely, the World Meteorological Organization said.

“The drought is set to continue,” WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis told reporters in Geneva.

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She said the Greater Horn of Africa Seasonal Climate Outlook Forum had issued its predictions for the October to December rainy season.

“Unfortunately, the predictions show high chances of drier than average conditions across most parts of the region,” Nullis said.

“The drought-affected areas of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are expected to receive significantly below normal rainfall until the end of the year.”

The October to December season contributes up to 70 percent of the annual total rainfall in the equatorial parts of the Greater Horn of Africa, particularly in eastern Kenya.

“This deficit is really going to hit hard,” Nullis said.

“The seasonal rainfalls will not be sufficient to alleviate the crisis now… We are witnessing an unfolding tragedy.”

Guleid Artan, the director of the WMO’s regional climate center for East Africa, said in a statement: “It pains me to be the bearer of bad news, when millions of people in the region have already suffered the longest drought in 40 years.”

“Sadly, our models show with a high degree of confidence that we are entering the fifth consecutive failed rainy season in the Horn of Africa.”

“In Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, we are on the brink of an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.”

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