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East Africa hunger crisis

The United Nations declares that famine is "at the door" in Somalia, one of four countries affected by conflict, climate shocks, and COVID-19 in the region.

People across East Africa in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya, and Somalia are enduring severe hunger and the threat of famine because of a deadly combination of factors: conflict, climate-induced weather shocks—flooding in some countries, drought in others—and COVID-19.

According to a statement from the United Nations, famine is "at the door" in Somalia. The latest Oxfam estimates show that one person is likely to die of hunger every 36 seconds between now and the end of the year in the region as the worst hit areas hurtle towards famine.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine also presents additional challenges for East Africa, which imports 90 percent of its wheat from Ukraine and Russia. Global disruptions of the trade in food, cooking oil, and fertilizer are likely to create catastrophic new consequences as they push food and commodity prices beyond what East African governments can afford.

“We are already witnessing a disaster unfold and cannot wait for famine to be declared to activate resources to save lives," said Abby Maxman, Oxfam America’s President and CEO.

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How Oxfam is responding to the hunger crisis in East Africa

Oxfam is working with local organizations to reach more than two million people across the four countries. Together, we’re advocating for governments and others to respond to the immediate crisis with humanitarian assistance, while also investing in programs and services that fight inequality and help vulnerable people improve their lives over the long term and reduce their vulnerability to climate change.

People fleeing violence in northern Ethiopia check with staff from Oxfam’s partner at an area hosting displaced people.
People fleeing violence in northern Ethiopia check with staff from Oxfam’s partner at an area hosting displaced people. Serawit Atnafu / Oxfam

ETHIOPIA

Oxfam has supported 170,000 people in northern Ethiopia with clean water, food, and cash assistance in areas affected by conflict. We plan to reach 750,000 people in this region in the next year with emergency food packages, livelihoods assistance, clean water, sanitation, and hygiene kits. We are also scaling up our work in the southern Somali region to respond to the effects of the drought. We plan to reach 180,000 people in this region and will include support for small businesses, the vaccination and veterinary treatment of livestock, agricultural support, repairing water systems and wells, and cash-for-work projects.

In northeast Kenya, a sustained drought has dried up water sources for people and livestock.
In northeast Kenya, a sustained drought has dried up water sources for people and livestock. Khadija Farah/Oxfam

KENYA

The government of Kenya has declared a national disaster due to drought. In 2020-2021, the country also saw the worst infestation of locusts in 70 years. Its government estimates that 2.8 million people are in urgent need of assistance. Oxfam is working closely with a network of Kenyan humanitarian groups that are providing cash to help people buy food and other essential items. Working together, so far we have distributed cash to 40,000 people in 6,800 households. We are repairing wells and other water systems, and promoting good hygiene to help people prevent COVID-19 and other diseases in eight of the most hard-to-reach, and worst-affected, counties in the arid and semi-arid lands in northern Kenya.

Ibaado Mohamed (left) manages three camps for displaced people in Somalia/Somaliland. She coordinates with protection teams established by Oxfam –these are groups of women who visit camp residents to check on hygiene, health, and domestic-and gender-based violence, and to give information and advice.
Ibaado Mohamed (left) manages three camps for displaced people in Somalia/Somaliland. She coordinates with protection teams established by Oxfam -- these are groups of women who visit camp residents to check on their health and well-being, and to give information and advice. Petterik Wiggers / Oxfam Novib

SOMALIA

In early September 2022, the United Nations declared that famine is "at the door" in Somalia. Around 300,000 people are living infamine-like conditions, and 6.7 million are facing acute hunger and “imminent famine.”

Oxfam is working with local organizations, such as KAALO Aid and Development, to provide lifesaving water, sanitation, and health support. Together, we are drilling wells, distributing hygiene kits (to help protect communities from water-borne diseases), distributing cash, seeds, tools, and training farmers in small-scale greenhouse farming. Oxfam will also support the treatment and vaccination of livestock alongside the government’s Ministry of Livestock, as well as train community protection volunteers on gender-based violence issues--including by distributing solar lamps to protect women and girls at night. Oxfam and our partners aim to reach 420,000 people in Somalia this year.

Five consecutive years of heavy rains and flooding is affecting 835,000 people across the northern parts of South Sudan.
Five consecutive years of heavy rains and flooding is affecting 835,000 people across the northern parts of South Sudan. Lake Tesfaw/Oxfam

South Sudan

People in South Sudan have experienced widespread seasonal flooding for five consecutive years. Since May 2021, an estimated 835,000 people have been affected by flooding in areas along the White Nile, across the north of the country. Entire communities have fled to higher ground, and about 366,000 people are currently displaced.

As many as 8.3 million people will face severe food insecurity from May through July in 2022 as climatic and economic shocks intensify. Oxfam and our partners are assisting people in five states and aim to reach 383,000 people with safe water, resources for sanitation and hygiene, cash grants for families to buy food and other essentials, and support for people to build their incomes, such as seeds, tools, and fishing kits.

Your support will help Oxfam and our partners provide cash, clean and safe water, and other assistance people urgently need in East Africa.

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