accessibility & help

Red Cross launches East Africa Food Crisis Appeal

4 July 2011

With more than ten million people in the Horn of Africa facing severe drought, the British Red Cross has launched the East Africa Food Crisis Appeal.

Very poor rainfall in the Horn of Africa (including Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Uganda) has led to the driest period in 60 years for some areas, leading to crop failures and deaths of livestock.

High and increasing staple food prices (30-80 per cent higher than the five-year average in parts of Kenya) and regional conflict are combining with the weather to make a bad situation even worse.

Lack of food

Woman and baby in crowdThe rate of refugees from Somalia arriving in southern Ethiopia has increased from 5,000 a month to more than 30,000 in the second week in June. Almost half the children arriving in Ethiopia from Somalia are malnourished.

“When people are leaving their homes due to lack of food, we’re in a very serious situation,” said Mary Atkinson, British Red Cross economic security advisor. “It means they’re giving up their livelihoods and it’s a last resort. This is a potential early warning sign for a famine.”

The British Red Cross has given more than £400,000 to support work in the Horn over the last 18 months, but more funds are needed as the situation worsens.

Emergency funds

“The region is now in an extreme situation where it urgently needs more funds to address both emergency needs and underlying vulnerability as this is also a long-term, chronic situation,” said Mary. “Longer-term investment to help people protect their livelihoods and make them more resilient to future drought is also required.”

Money raised will go to support the work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in the region, both providing emergency food aid and helping people recover their livelihoods.

The Red Cross has already acted early to mitigate the impact of drought in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Uganda.

Health, water and livelihoods

For example, the Kenyan Red Cross is working on projects such as borehole rehabilitation, distribution of high quality seeds, protecting livestock herds, health services, and providing food to children in schools. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has built two large water tanks able to collect 100,000 litres of water each in northern Kenya. These tanks will provide water for 5,000 people. An additional water point has been built for pastoralists and their livestock.

Meanwhile, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has provided mobile health teams, nutritional support for mothers and children and better access to water in Somalia.

The ICRC distributed seeds and tools in southern and central parts of Somalia earlier this month. Over 300 tonnes of maize, sorghum, cowpea and sesame seeds and nearly 800 tonnes of fertilizer were distributed, as well as 30,000 shovels, 30,000 hoes and 30,000 rakes, to over 95,000 people in ten provinces.

Donate to the appeal

The East Africa Food Crisis Appeal will cover numerous countries including those currently affected and those potentially affected in the future. In the unlikely event that we raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters either overseas or here in the UK.


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