In 2006, an acute shortage of food affected the countries in the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia), as well as northeastern Kenya. The United Nations's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated on January 6, 2006, that more than 11 million people in these countries may be affected by an impending widespread famine, largely attributed to a severe drought, and exacerbated by military conflicts in the region.
Drought is a predictable event in the Horn of Africa, and when combined with other factors it causes conflict and terrible human misery. Previous droughts in 1983–85, 1991–92 and 1998–99 swiftly reversed gradual increase in livestock and caused losses in the cattle population of up to 62%. These conditions of drought, together with other factors including high cereal prices, overpopulation in the region, abandoning traditional rangeland management methods and conflict, are leading to conditions of famine. In the present 2006 drought, claims about factors transforming drought into famine include a ban on livestock imports to markets in the Persian Gulf States, which has reduced the income of livestock-dependent farmers, further increasing food insecurity.
The population in East Africa had increased rapidly in the decades before the food crisis. From 67 million in 1950 to 306 million in 2006. 
Djibouti was a severely drought affected; the FAO estimated that about one third of the population (400 000 people) needed food aid.
The FAO estimated that more than one million people in the Somali Region of Ethiopia were facing severe food shortages. Although crops are currently being harvested, shortages are still expected to occur in the country's south-east.
Crop failure, drought and depleted livestock herds led to famine conditions in the Cushitic-inhabited northern and eastern pastoral districts of Mandera, Wajir, and Marsabit. As of January 6, 2006, approximately 30 deaths were reported. Some 2.5 million people (10% of the population) required food aid over the next six months, which led the Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki to declare a national disaster.
Somalia was the least affected out of the four countries. About two million people in the country's southern pastoral regions required humanitarian assistance. The prolonged absence of a strong central government and poor transportation infrastructure also posed problems for the distribution of food aid.
In February 2006, UNICEF warned that 1.5 million children under the age of five were being threatened by the drought and called for $16 million USD to help fund its relief efforts in the region.
- ^ a b c d e Millions of people are on the brink of starvation in the Horn of Africa, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) news release, 6 January 2006
- ^ a b c Sara Pantuliano and Sara Pavanello (2009) Taking drought into account Addressing chronic vulnerability among pastoralists in the Horn of Africa Archived 2012-03-07 at the Wayback Machine Overseas Development Institute
- ^ Pre-famine conditions confront Somali region - Reuters AlertNet
- ^ "Population Pyramids of the World from 1950 to 2100". PopulationPyramid.net.
- ^ Season failure precipitates crisis Archived 2006-05-02 at the Wayback Machine, Famine Early Warning Systems Network, 28 December 2005
- ^ Catherine Broberg, Kenya in Pictures, (Twenty-First Century Books: 2003), p.43
- ^ Food aid theft hurts Kenya's starving millions - Reuters AlertNet
- ^ The dangers of taking food aid to Somalia, BBC News, 3 May 2006
- ^ "Unicef Seeks Aid As Millions Suffer in Drought-Hit Horn of Africa". UN News Service. 2006-02-07.
- "Horn of Africa Famine Imminent says FAO", Adankronos International, January 6, 2006
- Africa Weather Hazards Assessment - USAID FEWS-NET (Famine Early Warning Systems Network)
- Crops & Drought: Drought in East Africa - NASA Earth Observatory, Natural hazards.
- The Food Crisis in Africa, Integrated Regional Information Networks, overview with updates
- Action for Africa Appeal, IR Worldwide, International Humanitarian NGO