Conflicts in Greater Karamoja worsen food insecurity

Armed conflicts in cross-border areas in the Greater Karamoja Cluster that encompasses the south-western parts of Ethiopia, north-western Kenya, the south-eastern parts of South Sudan and north-eastern Uganda, has worsen the lives of millions of people already suffering from acute food insecurity, new report says.

“This cross-border region has the lowest social development indicators and the worst access to services when compared with national averages for each country. Although livestock represents the most important source of income and food for the communities, the area is poorly integrated into national livestock health monitoring systems and market routes,” stated the 2020 Global Report on Food Crisis released this week.

“In addition, frequent and persistent droughts are a recurrent feature of the area and their impact is exacerbated by advancing desertification and environmental degradation of rangelands,” said the report, indicating that livestock transhumance is the key strategy employed by pastoralists and agropastoralist communities to cope with shocks and seasonal events.

“It constituted the primary driver of acute food insecurity for 8.5 million people in two countries: South Sudan and among refugee populations in Uganda who have fled from conflict-affected neighbouring countries,” the report stated.

The report stated that changing borders within states have contributed to tensions and restricted the mobility of pastoral communities. In addition, extreme climatic events have worsened intercommunal conflicts, “increasing disputes over already scarce natural resources, straining pastoralists’ ability to move their herds beyond their communities’ own lands. For these reasons, pastoralists have become heavily armed to protect their herds as well as their communities,” it said.

It is indicated that “armed conflicts, violent extremism, intercommunal violence and other localized tensions continued to affect peace and security across the whole region of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa”. IGAD is a Regional Economic Community of eight countries: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, the Sudan and Uganda. In 2019, the report stated that 75 percent of people in crisis or worse across the region were in three countries – (8 million in Ethiopia, 7 million in South Sudan and 5.9 million in Sudan).

In 2019, over 27 million people in six IGAD member states (Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, the Sudan and Uganda), were classified in Crisis or worse. This figure represents around 20 percent of the global total number of acutely food-insecure people in need of urgent humanitarian food and livelihood assistance, according to the report.

“The six countries faced all three main drivers of acute food insecurity – weather extremes, conflict/insecurity and economic shocks – with negative impacts reinforcing each other, adding to the complexity of the food security situation,” the report said. Facilitated by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN), the 2020 Global Report on Food Crisis is a complex, multi-partner process which would not have been possible without the commitment and contributions from a multitude of agencies and individuals.