ROME (Canadian Press) — Poor crop prospects, conflict and forced migration are likely to push more people into hunger in the Horn of Africa this year, a U.N. agency said Monday.
The Food and Agriculture Organization did not give a figure but said that it expected an increase from the nearly 20 million people currently depending on food aid in the region.
The Rome-based agency blamed low rains for reduced crop harvests in countries such as Somalia, where about half the population needs emergency food aid.
In Uganda, the production of the first season crops is forecast at below average levels, the country's fourth successive poor harvest, the agency said. The maize crop in Kenya is estimated at 1.84 million tons, about 28 per cent below normal levels.
The agency also warned that El Nino, which usually brings heavy rains toward the end of the year, could cause floods and mudslides, destroying crops, killing livestock and damaging infrastructure and houses.
The agency said that forced migrations in search of water and pasture have worsened livestock conditions, increased disease outbreaks and worsened conflicts in the area.
Worldwide, the number of hungry people is estimated to have reached 1.02 billion — up 11 per cent from last year's 915 million, FAO has said.