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East Africa crisis appeal

East Africa is in the grip of a devastating food crisis. Millions of families are facing starvation because of droughts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Famine has been declared in parts of conflict-stricken South Sudan.

Oxfam is there with life-saving support, but we urgently need your help to do more.

You can help: Donate now 

Bruno Bierrenbach Feder/Oxfam

George* sits on his mother's lap as health personnel take his measurements to determine his nutrition level. Nyal, Unity State, South Sudan  - March 2017.

*Name changed

The situation

More than 16 million people across East Africa are facing terrifying food shortages. Drought has caused crops to fail and cattle to die in parts of Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya - leaving millions facing starvation and desperately seeking a safe source of water. Brutal war in South Sudan has driven more than three million people from their homes and left millions more in need of emergency food.

For the first time since 2011, famine has been declared in the worst affected areas. 

In Ethiopia this year, an estimated 300,000 children will become severely acutely malnourished and 9.2 million people are expected not have a regular supply of safe drinking water. 5.6 million people urgently need food.

In Kenya, the arid and semi-arid lands and coastal areas are worst affected. 2.7 million people are considered severely at risk.

Famine is a real possibility in Somalia, where deaths as a result of the drought have already been recorded. The number of people in need of emergency food aid has doubled in the last six months to 6.2 million. Over 360,000 acutely malnourished children are in urgent need of support. 

In South Sudan, ongoing conflict means that 7.5 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance. Half the country's population are expected to be affected by extreme hunger by July - and famine has already been declared in parts of the country.  

Without immediate action, this crisis will get worse. We need to act now to save lives.

Corrie Sissons/Oxfam

Oxfam staff unload food aid, including beans and oil at the Nyal airstrip in South Sudan. 


Bruno Bierrenbach Feder/Oxfam

Tabitha with her daughter who is sucking on a dry 'tuok' (a dry seed). She says, "We feed on water lilies, 'keay', fish and anything we could find in the river."

Oxfam's response

In South Sudan, Oxfam helped more than 600,000 people across the country in 2016 and with famine declared we will need to reach many more people this year. We're making sure the most vulnerable people have access to safe water and helping to repair boreholes and wells, providing emergency food distribution and training people to look after and maintain their own water supply.

In Ethiopia, we have provided over 500,000 people and 84 schools and health centres with water through water trucking and setting up water storage points, and aim to help another 500,000 people in the next three months.

In Kenya, we aim to reach over 600,000 people within the next six months, repairing boreholes and distributing cash. We have already repaired and rehabilitated boreholes, which are now providing 177,688 people in Wajir and 50,142 people in Turkana with safe, clean water. 

Oxfam has launched a humanitarian response in Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia, where it already has established development projects. We have started trucking water to 15,000 people and providing cash to 12,000. The immediate plan is to initially help at least 20,000 people with clean water, sanitation and cash assistance for food and to reach 200,000 more people with a longer-term response over the next 12 months. 

Oxfam is working across the region to provide life-saving support to those most in need of help. We urgently need to get food and clean water to women, men and children facing starvation. It's a race against time to save lives.


You can help: Donate now 

What is famine?

UN experts declare a famine when:

  • at least 20% of the population faces extreme food deficits
  • global acute malnutrition exceeds 30%
  • and the death rate exceeds two people out of every 10,000 per day for the entire population.

Oxfam's Mark Goldring on the reasons for the famine in East Africa

Other ways to help