Dar es Salaam — Over 17 million people in the Horn of Africa face food crisis, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (Fao).
Those people are from Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, the according to the agency, attributing the situation to widespread drought in the Horn of Africa due to few rains between October and December.
Areas of greatest concern cover much of Somalia, north-east and coastal Kenya, south-east of Ethiopia as well as the Afar region which is yet to recover from El Nino induced drought of 2015/16.
According to a statement posted on Fao website, close to 12 million people across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are in need of food assistance, as families face limited access to food and income, together with rising debt, low cereal and seed stocks, and low milk and meat production.
In the statement, Fao warned that if a response was not immediate and sufficient, the risks will be massive and will cost a lot.
"The magnitude of the situation calls for scaled up action and coordination at national and regional levels. This is, above all, a livelihoods and humanitarian emergency - and the time to act is now," said Fao Deputy Director-General for Climate and Natural Resources, Ms Maria Helena Semedo.
Ms Semedo was speaking on behalf of the Fao Director-General at a High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Situation in the Horn of Africa chaired by the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, on the sidelines of the 28th AU Summit in Addis Ababa.
Although Tanzania is not in the list, scores of regional government officials have signalled stress arising from drought and death of livestock in their areas.
However, President John Magufuli and his entire government has denied reports of famine threat and stressed that there will be no food relief to anyone. Recently, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said the country wasn't facing a famine threat and reassured the public that there was enough food despite reported drought in some parts of the country.