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East Africa crisis appeal

There are currently 15 million people going hungry in the region and 4 million have fled their homes.

This is food crisis fast spiralling out of control and urgent action is needed. South Sudanese are fleeing violence only to face a renewed threat from hunger. You can help.

Oxfam is there with life-saving support, we have reached 1.8 million people.  but we urgently need your help to do more.

You can help: Donate now 

Last updated: 02/07/18

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 22 million people are affected by the drought East Africa, and at least 15 million are going hungry.

The drought has caused crops to fail and cattle to die while the lack of clean water increases the threat of cholera and other diseases. Brutal war in South Sudan has driven more than three million people from their homes and left millions more in need of emergency food. There have been over 43,000 cases of acute watery diarrhoea in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

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 at least nine million people are expected not have a regular supply of safe drinking water. Over 7 million people are severely food insecure in the country.

In Kenya, over two million people are considered severely at risk. There have been some rains but the food security situation remains unchanged in the short-term.

In Somalia, more than six million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and parts of the country are on the brink of famine. Many people are relying on limited water sources which are unprotected and unsafe, exposing them to disease. The water shortage has led to reported increases in acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) and cholera.

In South Sudan, almost five million people  are facing extreme hunger, and over 60% of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance; a humanitarian crisis driven by three years of a brutal civil war. 

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

Kieran Doherty

Mobile water source at Imvepi Settlement, Uganda. 

More than one million people have fled the brutal conflict in South Sudan and taken refuge in neighbouring Uganda in places like Bidibidi the largest refugee settlement in the world - home to over 270,000 South Sudanese refuges.


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 has reached more than 600,000 people across the country.

  • Providing regular emergency food distributions to over 415,000 people.
  • Ensuring access to clean water, safe sanitation facilities, essential hygiene items and promoting good hygiene to help keep diseases like cholera at bay.
  • Distributing vouchers for canoes so that people sheltering from the conflict on islands in the swamps can get to the help they need.
  • Supporting the most vulnerable people to produce food for themselves and develop ways to make a living: for example by providing livestock, fishing kits or training, tools and seeds.

In Ethiopia, we are now aiming to reach one million people. So far:

  • 511,000 people have been reached by water trucks. In addition Oxfam and partners have also provided trucked water to 85 health facilities and schools.
  • Over 291,000 people have been supported with public health messages, to help keep people healthy and prevent the spread of disease.
  • 1,675 households have received two rounds of cash transfers, to help them provide for their daily needs.

In Kenya, we aim to reach over 600,000 people with assistance. We have repaired and rehabilitated boreholes, which are now providing 177,688 people in Wajir and 50,142 people in Turkana with safe, clean water. Our primary focus is on the repair of water pumps, and helping people with cash. So far:

  • Four water systems have been repaired, making water accessible to more than 12,000 people.
  • The replacement of a generator in Kakuma is underway. This will restore reliable access to water for over 20,000 people.

 In Somalia, so far:

  • 31,542 people have so far been reached by the drought response, with water, sanitation and hygiene programmes and cash transfers.
  • Water trucks have so far reached 21,000 people.

Oxfam has also launched a humanitarian response in Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia. We are providing water to 14,000 people and providing cash to 10,000. 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.

Bidibidi in Northern Uganda is the largest refugee settlement in the world - home to over 270,000 South Sudanese refugees. Almost one million people have fled the brutal conflict in South Sudan and taken refuge in neighbouring Uganda thanks to a generous refugee policy by the country's government. In Bidibidi Oxfam and have been providing clean drinking water to 70% of the entire settlement - around 200,000 people. Oxfam is also constructing latrines and supporting hygiene promotion activities in schools and communities, and supporting small youth-led businesses such as barber shops and handicrafts.

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