There have been significant improvements in East Africa since the food crisis was declared in 2011, but rebuilding lives and livelihoods will take sustained effort for years to come.
last updated June 2012
In mid-2011 a major food crisis affecting 13 million people was declared across parts of East Africa. Livestock died, harvests failed, and families’ livelihoods were destroyed. Tens of thousands of people are believed to have died – mainly in Somalia, which experienced the first famine of the 21st century.
Though triggered by poor rains – in some places, the worst in 60 years - the underlying causes of the crisis were poor governance, conflict, chronic neglect of remote arid regions, and under-investment in small-scale food producers, such as farmers and pastoralists.
Working with communities, governments, and local and international NGOs, Oxfam has reached more than 2.8 million people in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia with safe water, sanitation, cash, and other support. This assistance has provided both life-saving humanitarian aid and long-term development to help communities cope with a changing climate and increasingly frequent droughts.
Rebuilding lives and livelihoods will require sustained effort for years to come. For some, the crisis continues: although the famine in Somalia ended in February 2012, around 2.3 Somalis are still in living in the midst of a serious food emergency. But thanks to good rains in late 2011 and a massive global emergency response, East Africa has experienced significant improvements since the onset of the crisis.