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Maryan Mohamed from Somalia. Photo: Abdullahi Hassan

Hunger crisis in East Africa

Millions of people are at risk of starvation. Oxfam is on the ground.

People in the Horn of Africa, East and Central Africa are facing a deeply alarming hunger crisis. Extreme climate conditions have caused widespread food and water shortages and more than 45 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. One person currently dies of hunger every 28 seconds and over 6 million children are facing or already suffering from acute malnutrition.


"We had to leave our village because my daughter's condition was getting worse"

Says Maryan Mohamed from Somalia who had to leave her home to look for water and food because her daughter - like 1.8 million children in Somalia - is suffering from malnutrition.

A combination of extreme climatic conditions, covid-19 and conflict

Climate change has caused severe drought and exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation, in a region plagued by conflict, covid-19 and the worst invasion of locusts in 70 years. Rising food and fuel costs due to the war in Ukraine further complicate the situation.

Many harvests have failed and millions of livestock - on which nomadic families depend for food and livelihoods - are emaciated or dead. More than 13 million people have been displaced in search of water and pasture, while millions more have been forced to flee their farmlands and homes by conflict.

Nearly 30 million people are at risk of extreme hunger, and more than 45 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The situation has worsened in 2022 and, if aid is not forthcoming, is likely to become even more serious in 2023.

"In my 40 years, I have never seen anything like what is happening here in Akobo. In the last four years it has been either flood, drought, famine, violence or COVID-19. It is just too much. I am tired of living. If it continues like this, I doubt my girls will grow up."

Nyadang Martha, South Sudan

Millions are in need of urgent help:


In Kenya, crop production has fallen by 70% and the country has declared a national disaster. 1.4 million livestock deaths have been recorded. 3.1 million people are living in acute hunger and in need of assistance. Women and children are hardest hit, with gender-based violence and child marriage on the rise.

People from Rawana village collecting water, Kenya. Photo: Mark Wahwai/Oxfam

South Sudan

In South Sudan, people eat leaves from bushes to survive the day. For the fifth year in a row, the country has been hit by severe flooding that has destroyed crops, homes and infrastructure. 70% of the country is flooded and nearly a million people have been forced to flee their homes. 2.2 million people are at risk of starvation and over 70% of the population - 8.3 million people - are in need of humanitarian aid. This figure is expected to rise to 9.4 million by 2023.

Mammy lives in a refugee camp after fleeing her home village with her four children in South Sudan. The extreme drought has caused food shortages and violence. Photo: Dominic Kango/Oxfam


In Somalia, the rains have failed for five consecutive seasons. 90% of the country is suffering from severe drought, the worst in nearly half a century, leading to crop failure and livestock deaths. People are dying of hunger, malnutrition and disease in the worst hunger crisis in living memory. The number of people living in famine-like conditions is already higher than during the 2011 famine, when more than a quarter of a million people died. Almost half of all children under five are acutely malnourished.

Ali, a farmer, sits by his fields. The crops are growing poorly due to the drought. Photo: Pablo Tosco / Oxfam Intermón


In Ethiopia, food availability has not been so uncertain since 2016 and 9.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. In the Somali region alone, water and food shortages are critical for 3.5 million people. Nearly a million animals have died, and nomadic families, who rely entirely on livestock for their survival, no longer have anything to live on.

Shamis Ali Dahir with his family. Due to the drought, all their livestock has died, and they have had difficulty growing crops. Photo: Petterik Wiggers / Oxfam

What Oxfam does in East Africa

Together with our partners, we help millions of people with life-saving services in the region. Our goal is to reach over 1.5 million people with emergency food, clean water, sanitation, cash assistance, shelter and shelter.

We also help communities become more resilient to climate change, working on building programmes and providing sustainable and lasting solutions for the future. Read more about our work on climate justice here.

Over 28 million people in the region are at risk of extreme hunger if the drought continues. People need your help! The easiest and most cost-effective way to help people affected by crises is to become a monthly donor. This ensures that we can plan our work in the long term and help where the needs are greatest.

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