The Horn of Africa, which includes Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and the border near Kenya, is an arid region that is highly susceptible to drought. Although the region had the capacity to cope with occasional droughts in the past, it has become increasingly vulnerable in recent years due to consecutively poor rainy seasons, constantly rising food prices, changing agricultural practices, and poor land management.
After two poor consecutive “rainy” seasons, the region experienced the worst drought of the past 60 years in 2011, which caused a serious humanitarian crisis. With crops unable to grow, livestock rapidly dying, and food inaccessible due to high prices, an estimated 11.5 million people became vulnerable to food and water shortages.
The situation in Somalia was particularly dire due to conflict and insecurity in the country. At the time, the United Nations had declared famine in two parts of Southern Somalia (southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle), and a quarter of the population became displaced. Thousands of Somalis made a treacherous trek to attempt to reach camps in Kenya and Ethiopia in order to access aid.
In 2016, the region was severely affected by a new humanitarian crisis, a result of the El Niño weather phenomenon. Lack of rain resulted in a loss of crops, leaving more than 10 million people vulnerable to high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.