East Africa Hunger Crisis: Fast Facts

Devastating drought, conflict, and skyrocketing global food prices are putting millions of people at risk of famine across communities in East Africa. Learn more about the hunger crisis in East Africa and how you can provide life-saving support.


1. Nearly 20 million people in East Africa are at risk of starvation.

The worst drought in four decades, impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising food prices, and ongoing conflict and violence are contributing to food scarcity and insecurity across the Horn of Africa. Extreme weather caused by the climate crisis has depleted water sources and killed crops and livestock on a devastating scale.

Up to 20 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia could face starvation by the end of this year. South Sudan and Eritrea are also experiencing severe conditions that are pushing millions of people toward deepening food insecurity and possibly famine.
Source: World Food Programme

2. The war in Ukraine is driving up food prices.

Before the war, Ukraine was a significant source of the world’s grains, including wheat. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is compounding the challenges to food access in East Africa by blocking wheat exports that East African countries rely on. Last year, Eritrea imported more than 40% of its wheat from Ukraine.

The war has also sent the global prices of fuel, food, and fertilizer soaring. According to some estimates, regional prices have increased by nearly 20% since the war started.
Source: The New York Times + World Food Programme

3. Millions of children are facing severe acute malnutrition.

Across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, more than 1.7 million children are in urgent need of treatment as their families struggle to feed them. Since January, at least 448 children have died from severe acute malnutrition in Somalia alone.

In South Sudan, one in six children under age 5 is suffering from severe acute malnutrition—the country’s highest proportion since 2013.
Source: Voice of America + World Food Programme + Forbes

Provide life-saving aid with a donation to GlobalGiving’s East Africa Hunger Relief Fund.


4. Conflict is contributing to the hunger crisis.

Around the world, conflict is the largest driver of food crises. In Ethiopia’s Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regions, prolonged conflict has displaced millions of people and destroyed crops. Almost 40% of people in the Tigray region are suffering an extreme lack of food after nearly two years of fighting.

Forces from neighboring Eritrea fought against Tigrayan forces since the start of the war in support of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s troops. Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers have been accused of blocking food aid and even stealing it.

Somalia is experiencing ongoing fighting between the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab and government and international forces. Security challenges, new displacement, and poor road networks have made it difficult for food aid to reach hundreds of thousands of people in need.

In South Sudan, combatants fought for decades in a war leading to independence in 2011, and sporadic violence since then has caused millions of people to flee. Along with the climate crisis, this has led to mass displacement and the destruction of crops and arable land. More than 70% of South Sudanese are dependent on food aid.
Source: Al Jazeera + Reuters + The New Humanitarian + The BBC + FSIN

5. Relief efforts to ease the hunger crisis in East Africa are woefully underfunded.

With donor attention largely focused on supporting people affected by Russia’s war on Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, many global aid efforts to provide relief for the hunger crisis in East Africa are falling short.

In Somalia, for example, the United Nations’ financial tracking service said aid donors have pledged only about 18% of the $1.46 billion needed for emergency relief. In South Sudan, the UN World Food Programme announced that it will suspend food assistance due to a funding shortage.

Funding can make a difference as it did in 2017 when many of these countries faced famine and averted it thanks to concerted efforts.
Source: The New York Times + World Food Programme + USAID

Provide life-saving aid with a donation to GlobalGiving’s East Africa Hunger Relief Fund.


6. When famine is declared, it will be too late.

Famine is declared when the rates of death and starvation in a geographic area have reached a certain threshold, among other criteria. This means that people living in famine-declared areas have a limited chance of survival. Areas across East Africa are now in an emergency phase and on the brink of famine. But because famine is preventable, it is essential to act before it’s too late.
Source: Action Against Hunger + The New Humanitarian

7. GlobalGiving partners are already on the ground providing food, water, medical treatment, and other emergency services.

GlobalGiving’s Disaster Response Team is working with responding partners to support hunger relief efforts in East Africa. Local partners in particular have the expertise and experience to respond to their communities’ needs. The GlobalGiving East Africa Hunger Relief Fund will also support community-led, long-term recovery efforts as needed.
Source: GlobalGiving East Africa Hunger Relief Fund

8. Cash is the best way to help people at risk of starvation during the East Africa hunger crisis.

Why? Individual needs will vary greatly throughout the life cycle of a crisis. Cash donations empower community leaders to be nimble in responding to their communities’ changing and evolving needs. In addition, drought has severely impacted the livelihoods and income of people in the region—the lack of water devastated livestock and farming. So some people affected by this crisis require nutrition or financial support, others will require medical care or other assistance years down the road. You can learn more about the importance of cash donations in this infographic.
Source: GlobalGiving + USAID Center for International Disaster Information

Provide life-saving aid for people at risk of starvation through GlobalGiving’s East Africa Hunger Relief Fund.


Featured Photo: East Africa Hunger Crisis: Concern's Response by Concern Worldwide US

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