Over the past year, the eastern Horn of Africa has experienced two consecutive severely below-average rainy seasons. Though May 2011 rains have resulted in some improvement to pasture and water availability, these gains are likely to be short-lived.
In order to provide some historical context for the current drought, FEWS NET/USGS has compared rainfall totals from the past year with comparable data for the last 60 years for specific drought-affected pastoral areas of Kenya and Ethiopia. This analysis indicates that rainfall was below-average in all analysis areas with 2010/11 being the driest or second driest year since 1950/51 in 11 of the 15 analyzed pastoral zones.
Other droughts have been longer (e.g., 2008/09) and 2009/10 was an exceptionally good year for rainfall. Nonetheless, the current drought is severe, and its impacts have been exacerbated by extremely high food prices, reduced coping capacity, and a limited humanitarian response.