Four million people with no food or income as floods decimate East Africa harvest

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Crisis highlights need for urgent action to help communities most affected by climate breakdown

Floods have inundated vast swaths of farmland across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia in the middle of the harvest season, leaving four million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, Oxfam warned today.

The torrential rains which began in October, have killed hundreds of people, washed away thousands of homes and destroyed thousands of hectares of crops in the three countries. Nearly two million people have been forced to flee their homes.

Even before these floods, consecutive seasons of climate-induced drought and ongoing conflict had left over 27 million people in East Africa without enough food to eat; and their ability to cope has been stretched to breaking point.

In Somalia, the heavy October – December (Deyr) rains killed over 100 people and devastated one-fifth of the harvest in South Central Somalia, including 1,400 metric tonnes of sorghum in Juba and Shabelle. It is expected that 1.5 million hectares of farmland in Somalia will be adversely affected by the floods.

Fati N’zi-Hassane, Oxfam in Africa Director, said: “The worsening climate crisis is a harsh reality for those already suffering hunger and destitution in East Africa. Today, millions of people are pummelled by consecutive weather extremes they are hardly responsible for, with absolutely nothing to shield them or help them rebuild their lives.”

Adan Hassan, a farmer from Bardhere, one of the worst affected regions in Somalia, told Oxfam: “We have lost all our crops. All the tomatoes, watermelons, beans, and carrots that we would have harvested within months were swept away. More than 80 per cent of bananas, lemons, and sorghum have also been destroyed. We had just started recovering and the rains have taken everything we have built in the past few months.”

In neighbouring Kenya, floods have affected almost half a million people, washed away thousands of homes, destroyed over 21,000 acres farmland and killed 13,500 livestock.

Similarly, in Ethiopia's Somali region, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. The destruction of roads has hampered transportation and caused prices of food and basic commodities to soar.

Fati N’zi-Hassane said: “The scale and frequency of climate destruction in East Africa paints a stark picture of the abhorrent climate injustice against disadvantaged countries and communities facing climate extremes.”


Notes to editors

  • Pictures, video interviews with people affected by flooding and footage of flooded houses and land in Somalia and Kenya can be found HERE
  • Oxfam, together with partners, is scaling up its humanitarian response to support communities affected by the floods. This includes providing food, water treatment units, hygiene kits to over thousands of people across Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. The 2023 UN Humanitarian Response Plan which requires $2.6 billion to support 7.6 million people is just 42 per cent funded.
  • Food insecurity figures are based on IPC classification of the number of people in crisis or worse levels of food insecurity (IPC3+) for Kenya (1.5 million) and Somalia (4.5 million).
  • Food insecurity in Ethiopia is determined by the Humanitarian Requirements Plan which estimates that in 2023, 20.1 million people were experiencing food insecurity.
  • IFRC estimates that over 478,860 people in Kenya have been affected by the floods of whom over 270,00 are displaced.
  • In Ethiopia, authorities report that more than 1.5 million people have been affected by flooding and over 600,000 have been displaced across seven of the country's twelve regions.
  • In Somalia, OCHA reports that over 2.4 million people have been affected by the heavy rain and floods, with over one million displaced and 110 killed in at least 36 districts.

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