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Food crisis in East Africa


Photo: IFRC/Aurellie Marrier d'Unienville

More than 11.7 million people across Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya are facing starvation and running out of water.

We've launched the East Africa Food Crisis Appeal to help.

Imagine half the population of Australia on the brink of starvation - this crisis requires a massive response. A further 10 million people are running short of food. Catastrophic drought has ruined crops and killed livestock by the millions, and families need food and safe water now.

Red Cross and Red Crescent is distributing food to people who are starving.

Our volunteers are part of the affected communities. They are working in hard-to-reach villages, areas cut off by conflict, and border camps where people are seeking refuge from hunger and violence. They are giving food to hungry children and their families, trucking in fresh water, and even dropping food packages by air.

We are also helping communities to manage diseases caused by a lack of food and water. Where possible, we're giving people cash grants to help them buy what they need, rebuild local markets and plan for the future.

This crisis is too big to ignore. Donate now.

23 March: A family without food sees drought turn to disaster

3 Mar 17: Somaliland - No food for man nor beast

How are donation funds from the East Africa Food Crisis Appeal used?
Funds raised will assist Red Cross to provide humanitarian support to people and communities in countries in East Africa affected by drought and food insecurity. That support may include:

  • emergency relief and recovery assistance such as food, water, sanitation, shelter and health
  • sending specialist aid workers to assist in initial assessment and crisis management operations
  • working in affected areas to strengthen local resilience and deliver effective relief and recovery services.

Should the funds raised exceed the amount required to meet the emergency needs of people in affected areas or if there are changes in circumstances beyond Red Cross' control, Red Cross will direct excess funds to responding to international crises and building resilience.

Why is there a food crisis in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya?

The food crisis in East Africa is the result of catastrophic drought, economic insecurity, crop failures, livestock deaths and ongoing conflict.

In Kenya, drought has been declared in 23 counties and 1.3 million people need aid. Across Somalia, 6 million people are considered 'food insecure' and more than 36,000 children are acutely malnourished and need urgent aid to survive. In south-eastern Ethiopia, 5.6 million people face severe food shortages.

The United Nations has declared a state of famine in the northern region of South Sudan, where drought and three years of internal conflict have prevented people from growing food. Some 100,000 people are starving and 40% of the population does not have a reliable source of food in the oil-rich nation.

How bad is the crisis?

The United Nations says it's the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945. Without immediate action, thousands of people, mostly children, will die from starvation or disease. Across east and central Africa, tens of millions of people are facing severe food shortages, a lack of water, disease and current or impending famine.

What is a famine?

The definition of famine is specific and requires three conditions: 20% of a population faces extreme food shortages; 30% experience acute malnutrition; and at least two people per 10,000 die every day.

Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, where one in three households need help to survive. Somalia stands on the brink of famine, with three million people desperately short of food right now. In Ethiopia, it's predicted that three million children and pregnant women will be acutely malnourished by May.

Is my donation tax-deductible?

Donations of $2 and over are tax deductible.

How much is spent on administration?

Australian Red Cross ensures that at least 90% of funds raised for an international appeal are spent directly on our emergency response programs. Our appeal and administration costs for international appeals vary depending upon the type and scale of activity, but are never more than 10% of any donation and only cover the directly associated costs in administering and promoting the appeal, such as the toll free inbound phone, postage for mailing receipts to donors, temporary staff if required, bank fees, audit and financial accountability.

Should the funds raised exceed the amount required to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of the people in the affected areas, Australian Red Cross will direct the excess funds to disaster management initiatives in the region. Any interest earned on donations will be invested back into the appeal.

Can I donate canned food or other items?

Thanks for your generosity but we are unable to send donated goods to East Africa. The cost of shipping and storing these products would far exceed the cost of buying nutritious supplements and other essential items in bulk closer to the source. Here's more information.

Our Red Cross shops around the country will gratefully accept good-quality clothing and household items. These will be on-sold to raise funds to help people in Australia and further afield.