The worst drought in at least 40 years is threatening to plunge huge swaths of East Africa into famine. At least 16 million people across the Horn of Africa are currently food insecure, malnourished babies born to malnourished mothers die just days after giving birth, and the decomposing corpses of livestock litter the ground — all the result of four straight seasons of failed rains. Climate change, mainly caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is making droughts more frequent and more severe.

While the eyes of the Western world are focused on the white refugees fleeing Ukraine, experts say the drought in East Africa could lead to a catastrophe like Somalia’s 2011 famine that killed more than 250,000 people, most of whom were children less than five years old. Even children who survive, however, will be hurt for life by the drought. In addition to the lingering effects of pediatric malnutrition, children — especially girls — as young as six are being forced to leave school because their families can no longer afford to send them, or simply because they need to stay home to help their families collect water. (Reuters, Bloomberg $; Climate Signals background: Drought)