NAIROBI, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Countries in East and Horn of Africa region are staring at a large-scale humanitarian crisis occasioned by acute food and water scarcity, international charity, Christian Aid said on Monday.
According to the charity, an estimated 20 million people are at risk of starvation in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia unless provision of relief food is stepped up by national governments and bilateral donors.
"The recent disappointing rains in Ethiopia, and also in Kenya have shattered any faint hopes for water sources to fill up, pastures to regenerate and harvest to be viable," said Christian Aid's Head of Humanitarian Programs for Africa, Maurice Onyango.
The UN had earlier warned of a looming specter of mass starvation in the greater Horn of Africa region as acute drought and conflicts hobble efforts to feed the population.
So far, only South Sudan has declared famine in some parts of the country while Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia could be the next epicenter of hunger and malnutrition.
The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) says that cumulatively, 13.4 million people in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are food insecure.
Onyango noted that the magnitude of food insecurity in the region has not matched the capacity of humanitarian agencies to respond.
"Communities affected by drought are relying more on outside aid, stretching humanitarian agencies and local authorities to respond," said Onyango, adding that Christian Aid has so far provided life saving assistance to nearly 50,000 people affected by drought in the region
Besides providing emergency assistance to drought victims in the East and Horn of Africa, Christian Aid and a consortium of partners are investing in resilience projects to help communities cope with climatic shocks.
Onyango said the Charity has built the capacity of farmers and herders in arid zones to manage water and pasture in a sustainable manner.
"If the world wants to avert future catastrophes of this scale, we need to invest in helping communities become more resilient to disasters," said Onyango.