Hunger in East Africa to hit new peak with one person likely to die every 28 seconds despite G7 pledge to end famine

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Calls for UK to urgently increase funding to the region ahead of G7 leaders’ summit in Japan

David Levene / Oxfam

Ahead of the start of the G7 summit on Friday 19 May in Japan, Oxfam’s G7 ‘big heads’ are in Trafalgar Square, London. Ignoring the devastating East Africa hunger crisis, despite G7 leaders’ promise to end famine when they met in the UK two years ago.

Ahead of the start of the G7 summit on Friday 19 May in Japan, Oxfam’s G7 ‘big heads’ are in Trafalgar Square, London. Ignoring the devastating East Africa hunger crisis, despite G7 leaders’ promise to end famine when they met in the UK two years ago.

The food crisis in East Africa is expected to reach its highest level since the crisis began with one person likely to die of hunger every 28 seconds between now and July across Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan, Oxfam warned today.

Yet fears are growing that the UK government will impose a real-terms cut in funding for the crisis just two years after it brokered a deal to prevent famine at the G7 summit in Cornwall.

Climate-induced drought, compounded by ongoing conflict and high food prices, has leftover 40 million people across East Africa facing severe hunger - up by nearly two thirds from last year - with 85,000 people in South Sudan and Somalia on the brink of famine.

Parts of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia have been hit with five consecutive failed rainy seasons and South Sudan has suffered a fifth consecutive season of severe flooding, decimating people’s ability to cope.

Following the latest escalation of violence in Sudan, in South Sudan six thousand people per day are arriving at the border putting a massive additional strain on the country where nearly two thirds of the population (63 per cent) are already facing extreme food insecurity – the highest levels in the world.

Ahead of the start of the summit on Friday, Oxfam is calling out G7 leaders, including UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, on their woeful inaction in tackling the hunger crisis in the region, betraying the promises they made two years ago.

Magnus Corfixen Oxfam’s Humanitarian lead said: “The silence of G7 leaders on the crisis in East Africa is deafening given the commitments they made just two short years ago. Their decision to cover their eyes and ears to the human cost of hunger is reprehensible.

“Every day that goes by without action means more avoidable deaths. More than 250 people are likely to die of hunger in East Africa in the time it takes G7 leaders to tuck into their dinner on Friday.

“The UK has gone from being a world leader in the fight against hunger to a laggard which is failing to live up to its own commitments.

“People are dying not because the world lacks food or money but because of political failure and injustice. G7 countries are among those chiefly responsible for climate change, so the UK and others have a clear moral responsibility to support people in East Africa whose lives are being destroyed by a climate crisis they did not cause.

“The G7 summit provides a vital opportunity for leaders to take the life-saving action that is needed. An urgent increase in aid is needed now.”

The UK government is expected to announce its humanitarian aid allocation for East Africa at a high-level pledging event taking place on 24 May in New York. Last year the UK provided just £156 million in humanitarian aid for East Africa, less than a fifth (18 per cent) of the £861m provided in 2017-8 during the region’s last major hunger crisis which helped avert a widespread famine.

There are real fears that this already inadequate budget will not be increased this year despite soaring inflation which means a standstill budget would equate to a real-terms cut.

In Somalia where an estimated 1.8 million children under five are expected to suffer acute malnutrition this year, recent figures show funding shortfalls are projected to increase the
number of people facing severe hunger by nearly a third (5m-6.6m) between April and June.

New analysis from Oxfam also reveals G7 countries owe low- and middle-income countries $13.3 trillion in unpaid aid and funding for climate action. Despite failing to pay what they owe, G7 countries are demanding $232 million a day in debt repayments from low-and-
lower-middle income countries through 2028.

With global hunger rising for a fifth consecutive year while extreme wealth and extreme poverty have increased simultaneously for the first time in 25 years, Oxfam is also calling on G7 governments to immediately cancel debts of low- and middle-income countries that need it, return to the 0.7 per cent of GNI aid target and meet their commitment to provide $100 billion annually to help poorer countries cope with climate change.


Notes to editors:

  • Images from the G7 leaders 'big heads' photo call can be found here
  • Death figure calculations are based on the IPC reports on acute food insecurity posted at, using the crude death rates associated with IPC Phase 3 in the IPC Technical Manual Version 3.1 (
    website/resources/ipc-manual/en/). We subtract 0.22 deaths per 10,000 affected population per day to account for the “normal death rate,” based on World Bank data (
  • For Ethiopia, 2023 HRP; for Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya, IPC analyses
  • As of May 2023, across the four countries, the crude death rate is at least 1,126-3,095 people per day, hourly hunger related death rate is 47-129 people, 0.78- 2.15 per minute.
  • Figures are based on the crude death rate for IPC 3, and do not take into account the higher crude death rates for IPC 4 and 5.
  • The calculation for the number of people likely to die from hunger in East Africa during the G7 leader’s dinner is based on an estimated time of two hours.
  • Information on the East Africa UN High-level pledging conference in New York on 24 May hosted by Italy, UK, USA and Qatar here
  • According to the World Food Program’s Global Report on Food Crisis (GRFC), 258 million people in 58 countries and territories faced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels (IPC/CH Phase 3-5) in 2022, up from 193 million people in 53 countries and territories in 2021.
  • In 2009, rich countries agreed to provide $100 billion per year by 2020 to help poorer countries cope with climate change. This deadline was then extended to 2025, with a view to setting a new global climate finance goal by 2025.
  • In April 2023, G7 Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to “the developed country goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion annually in climate finance through to 2025 in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation.”

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