With heavy rain already beginning to flood parts of East Africa, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned that further El Niño rains could compound the humanitarian crisis caused by drought. Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda are those most at risk of flooding, mudslides, crop destruction and water-borne diseases which could see up to 750,000 affected. "More than 23 million people in pastoral, agricultural and sub-urban communities are reeling from the impact of water and food shortages, pasture scarcity, conflict and insecurity," says John Holmes, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. "An additional shock would be devastating."
But due to the severity of the drought, rains are desperately needed in order to prevent further crop failure and help pastures regenerate. For pastoralists, migration in search of water and pasture has exacerbated conflict and led to increased disease outbreaks. This, in turn, has killed a large number of livestock and reduced the market value of those still alive due to their poor physical condition. In addition, poor harvests due to the lack of rainfall have been compounded by high food prices. Twenty million people in the region are already dependent on food aid, but as the hunger season progresses, the FAO warn that this number is likely to increase.