On Tuesday, Mahboub Maalim, the executive secretary of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, said that the drought in the region is alarming.
Badly hit are most of Somalia, South-eastern Ethiopia, Northern, Eastern and Coastal Kenya, and Northern Uganda.
According to Mr Maalim, the number of people facing crisis and emergency stands at 17 million. Somalia has 2.9 million 5.6 million in Ethiopia, 2.7 million in Kenya with Uganda and South Sudan accounting for the rest.
At least 20 million people are facing starvation with 11.2 million in dire need of food in the Horn of Africa due to drought. There were two consecutive poor rain seasons in 2016.
“Certain areas in South Sudan and Djibouti are under an emergency phase,” he said while briefing journalists on Tuesday.
World Food Programme, East and Central Africa regional director Valerie Guarnieri said that over 11.2 million people need emergency food relief.
Acute malnutrition among children aged between six and 59 months, pregnant women and nursing mothers remains high.
Acute malnutrition is in over 25 per cent of some parts of Somalia. In Kenya, the National Drought Management Authority announced on Monday that the number of Kenyans in need of relief food has more than doubled from last year’s figure of 1.25 million to 2.7 million on Wednesday. The most affected are the elderly, the sick, mothers and children.
It is getting worse in most counties with nine of them classified under pastoral and marginal agricultural areas worst hit at 20 per cent and 18 per cent.
Moderate acute malnutrition is above 20 per cent in northern Kenya, Baringo, Mandera, Marsabit and Turkana. It is 15 per cent in West Pokot while four counties (Garissa, Samburu, Tana River and Wajir) have serious acute malnutrition.
Ms Guarnieri pointed out that a total of 330,000 children require moderate acute malnutrition treatment, and a further 73,000 will require treatment for severe acute malnutrition.
She said Kenya has allocated Sh9 billion for drought response but needs an additional Sh2.2 billion.
She said the World Food Programme is feeding 500,000 children in eight arid areas.