Climate and food crisis in East and Central Africa

Amina (50) is the mother of 12 children. She arrived in the Gunagado displacement camp after the drought killed her family's cattle and an outbreak of disease endangered her family.

Amina, 50, arrived in the Gunagado displacement camp in search of food and water after the drought killed her cattle and an outbreak of disease endangered her family. Pastoralist communities in the Somali region have been suffering 4 years of erratic rains and millions of people have lost their livestock. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam

The Horn, East and Central Africa are facing a profoundly alarming hunger crisis. More than 44 million people are in need of humanitarian aid as climate extremes have caused widespread food and water shortages. Oxfam is on the ground responding but we urgently need your help to save more lives.

A combination of climate extremes, Covid-19 and conflict

A rapidly changing climate characterized by erratic rains in the Horn, East and Central Africa has prolonged a serious drought since 2021, compounding an already dire humanitarian situation caused by conflicts, COVID-19, and the worst plague of locusts in 70 years.

Many harvests have failed and millions of livestock – which pastoralist families rely upon for sustenance and livelihoods – are emaciated or dead. Over 13 million people have been displaced in search of water and pasture, while millions of others had to flee their farmlands and homes by conflicts.

More than 44 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and South Sudan and over 30 million people are facing severe levels of hunger.

The impact of the war in Ukraine on global food systems, energy prices and the global economy could drive these numbers even higher.

“All the 40 years of my life, I have never seen anything like what is happening here in Akobo. For the past four years, it is either flood, drought, famine, violence, or COVID-19. This is just too much. I am tired of living. If it continues like this, I doubt if my girls will become full adults.”

Nyadang Martha, from Akobo in South Sudan

Millions in need of urgent help

Kenya

Kenya has suffered a 70 percent drop in crop production and has declared a national disaster with 3.5 million people in acute hunger, now in need of aid. 1.4 million livestock deaths have been recorded. Women and children are the worst affected, with an increase in gender-based violence and child marriage.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia is facing its highest level of food insecurity since 2016. In Somali region alone 3.5 million people experience critical water and food shortage. Almost a million livestock animals have died, leaving pastoralists who entirely depend on herding for survival with nothing. 9.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Somalia

90% of Somalia are in severe drought conditions. The lack of access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation facilities has heightened the risks of water-borne diseases and gender-based violence. 7.7 million people (more than half of the population) are in need of humanitarian assistance. 44% of all the children under 5 are acutely malnourished.

South Sudan

Over the last five years, early seasonal rain has caused widespread flooding in the country, leading to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. Infrastructure has been demolished, affecting agricultural production and livelihoods. Over 70% of the population (8.3 million people) are in need of humanitarian aid.

Oxfam’s response

Oxfam and its partners are currently helping millions of people with life-saving support in Kenya, Somalia and soon in Ethiopia. We aim to reach over 1.5 million people with emergency food, clean water, sanitation, shelter, and rapid flexible cash assistance. We are also helping communities to be more resilient to the changing climate, working on rehabilitation programs and providing sustainable and durable solutions for the future.

East Africa cannot wait. The climate-fueled hunger and drought crisis is worsening with a potential for catastrophic loss of life. The number of people at risk of extreme hunger is expected to dramatically increase in coming months especially if the next rainy season fails again.

You can stop the worst from happening by supporting Oxfam’s work providing lifesaving aid to those who need it most.