Hunger likely to claim a life every 36 seconds in East Africa crisis over next three months
- Short URL: https://www.oxfam.org.uk/mc/23qhox/
One person is likely to die of hunger every 36 seconds between now and the end of the year in drought-ravaged East Africa as the worst hit areas hurtle towards famine, Oxfam warned today.
The international agency warned that the situation in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya is deteriorating fast. In Somalia, it is the worst hunger crisis in living memory, with the number of people experiencing acute hunger already surpassing the number affected in the famine of 2011, when more than a quarter of a million people died. Almost one in six people in Somalia are now facing extreme hunger.
Large parts of the region have suffered four failed rainy seasons – with a fifth likely to unfold over the next three months – as climate change has decimated crops and forced pastoralists to abandon their traditional way of life. The crisis has been exacerbated in many places by conflict, the fallout from Covid-19 and by rising food prices due in part to the war in Ukraine.
Oxfam analysis of the latest available data suggests that the rate at which people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are dying of hunger has increased since May when it estimated that a person was dying every 48 seconds and dangerous delays in providing aid to millions on the brink of starvation. Lack of available data meant it was not possible to include South Sudan, which is in the grip of its own hunger crisis caused by flooding and conflict.
Across the four countries, more than 6 million children face or are already suffering acute malnutrition.
Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB Chief Executive, said: “With hunger claiming lives at an ever-increasing rate, the question is how many more people need to die before the world acts.
“The alarm has been sounding for months, yet the Government and other donors have yet to adequately respond to the terrible reality that millions of people are trapped in a desperate struggle to survive – a struggle that too many are losing.
“People’s lives are being destroyed by a climate crisis they did nothing to cause. After four failed rainy seasons, their animals have died; crops have failed; and their ability to cope has been stretched to breaking point.
“Rich nations which have done most to contribute to climate change have a moral responsibility to protect people from the damage they have caused.”
So far this financial year the UK has confirmed an allocation of £156 million 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 is currently a total funding gap of more than $3 billion in UN appeals for Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan.
Prices of basic foodstuffs across the region have often doubled and sometimes tripled in recent months, driven by local shortages and the rise in global process exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
Women are particularly hard hit by the crisis as they resort to reducing their own food to feed others and taking on insecure jobs or migrating, placing them at higher risk, especially of gender-based violence.
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Notes to editors:
To calculate the daily deaths, we used the crude death rate of (0.5-0.99) per 10,000 people in Crisis (IPC 3) levels of acute food insecurity as specified in The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Global Partners (2021), as per Technical Manual Version 3.1: Evidence and Standards for Better Food Security and Nutrition Decisions. Then, we subtracted the normal daily death rate of 0.22 per 10,000 people per day; this figure is based on data from the UN and from national, EU, and Pacific Community statistical offices.
As of October 2022, across the three countries, the crude death rate is at least 880-2,421 per day, 0.61-1.68 per minute, i.e., between one every 1.6 minutes and one every 36 seconds. These figures are conservative, since they 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.
Across Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, approximately 31,435,315 people are now estimated to be in Crisis or worse (IPC 3 and above) or similar levels of acute food insecurity. According to IPC analyses (see IPC Population Tracking Tool), 11,035,315 people across Kenya and Somalia are projected to face high levels of acute hunger (IPC 3 and above) in October-December 2022. There are no recent IPC analyses for Ethiopia so we have used a proxy figure of 20.4m people experiencing acute food insecurity across Ethiopia, as per the number of People in Need (PiN) of food security and livelihoods assistance in the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Ethiopia, and as also used in the FAO-WFP Hunger Hotspot report for October 2022 to January 2023.
In May 2022, 22.4-23.4m people across Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia faced high levels of acute hunger (IPC 3 and above). This included: 7.4 million across Ethiopia (as per the IPC projection for July-September 2021); 5.5-6.5 million people in southeast Ethiopia (April 2022 estimate); 3.5 million people from Kenya (March-June 2022 IPC projection); and 6 million people in Somalia (April-June 2022 IPC projection). Across the three countries, the crude death rate was at least 627-1,802 per day, 0.44-1.25 per minute, i.e., between one every 2.5 minutes and one every 48 seconds.