Drought throughout East Africa
Photo: © Save the Children/ Colin Crowley


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Drought is pushing food prices up sharply in East Africa. The soaring cost of basic staples is an extra challenge for pastoralists as livestock prices fall.

Drought throughout East Africa has sharply curbed harvests and pushed the prices of cereals and other staple foods to unusually high levels, posing a heavy burden to households and special risks for pastoralists in the region. This was reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in late February 2017.

Local prices of maize, sorghum and other cereals are near or at record levels in swathes of Ethio-pia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, according to the latest Food Price Monitoring and Analysis Bulletin (FPMA).

Inadequate rainfall in most areas of the sub-region has put enormous strain on livestock and their keepers. Poor livestock body conditions due to pasture and water shortages and forcible culls mean animals command lower prices, leaving pastoralists with even less income to purchase basic foodstuffs.

The trends in East Africa, where prices of staple cereals have doubled in some town markets, stand in marked contrast to the stable trend of FAO's Food Price Index, which measures the monthly change in international prices of a basket of traded food commodities.

The difference is due to the drought that is hammering the sub-region, where food stocks were already depleted by the strong El Niño weather event that ended only last year.

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