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Africa Food Crisis 2006

Last updated July 2011

The British Red Cross has been working across Africa for many years and in 2006 it scaled up its projects to assist the most vulnerable affected by a major food crisis. We also launched an appeal and raised £1.4 million, which was spent entirely on emergency relief. The Department for International Development (DFID) contributed £3 million for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) appeals in Somalia. 

East Africa
Southern Africa
West Africa

East Africa

Situation

More than 11 million people were affected by critical food shortages in several countries in east Africa due to severe droughts coupled with the effects of past and/or ongoing conflicts. Food shortages were particularly grave in Somalia, eastern Kenya, and south eastern Ethiopia.   

Response

The ICRC assisted more than half a million people in areas affected by the drought and armed violence in Somalia and Ethiopia. In partnership with the Somali Red Crescent, the ICRC is focussed its assistance activities on southern Somalia, where the drought hit hardest. More than 210,000 vulnerable people (35,000 families) received rations of maize, beans and cooking oil in the worst affected areas. The ICRC has also bought goats and sheep from local farmers to feed thousands of internally displaced people. Half a million people were reached through ICRC activities such as trucking drinking water and repairing boreholes and wells.

In Ethiopia, the drought mainly affected the southern parts of the Somali Regional State. The ICRC helped more than 200,000 people by improving access to drinking water, distributing food and seed, and providing medical items for health facilities. It also immunised more than 300,000 livestock.

The British Red Cross supported the Ethiopian Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in developing a water and sanitation programme, which involved drilling new boreholes, distributing water purifiers and promoting key hygiene information.

In Kenya, we supported emergency distributions by the Kenya Red Cross of maize, beans and oil for families, as well as enriched food for malnourished children. In addition, the Kenya Red Cross supplyed safe drinking water for people and livestock and sanitation facilities. The Federation’s emergency appeal, launched in January, supported the Kenya Red Cross in delivering assistance to some 329,000 vulnerable people for 12 months.

Southern Africa

Situation

Many parts of southern Africa suffer from chronic food shortages, which threatened to escalate into a crisis for an estimated 12 million people. As a result the Red Cross carried out food distributions in Malawi and Zambia and distributed food to a total of seven affected countries through operation agreements with the World Food Programme.

The reasons for the crisis were complex but most aptly summed up as a result of the 'triple threat'  - a lethal combination of HIV, erratic rainfall, and poor governance. Southern Africa has the world’s highest HIV prevalence, with one in four adults living with the virus, driving down the region’s average life expectancy to 37 years. As a result of so many adults dying from AIDS-related diseases some four million children have been orphaned, which has had a devastating impact on the whole of society. The virus has decimated a whole generation of health and education professionals, dramatically weakened the farming workforce and thus had a devastating impact on food production and social services. Each year the number of Zambian teachers who die of AIDS-related diseases is equivalent to half the number trained.

Response

In October 2005, the Federation launched an emergency appeal to assist up to 1.5 million people. In Malawi, food packs consisting of maize, beans, oil and supplementary food for malnourished children were distributed to 16,000 families or 130,000 people (and an additional 85,000 people benefited from DFID support). A final distribution took place in April 2006before the harvest arrived. Food rations were also distributed to 32,000 people in Zambia.

The British Red Cross has been working with National Societies in the region for many years, supporting, for example, home-based care programmes for people living with HIV and their families. Alongside these programmes we supported the Zimbabwe Red Cross in distributing additional food and agricultural products during the food crisis and to supporting communities in developing their livelihoods.

West Africa

Situation

In the Sahel region in west Africa (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger), despite estimations that the harvest of 2005 was normal, there were indications that not all areas benefited equally and food shortages might re-emerge during the year’s lean season.

Response

The Federation extended its appeal covering Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger until July 2006.

After the Federation launched its initial emergency appeal in July 2005, the operation helped more than 630,000 people, mainly through feeding activities for malnourished children, food aid for families and through a cash distribution in the isolated eastern part of Niger.

The British Red Cross funded a cash project in Niger, which supported 4,000 families in the district of Tanout, in northeast Niger and worked with a Niger Red Cross pilot project in this area to construct cereal banks in 50 communities.

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