Africa food crisis
Drought, conflict and global price rises have left more than 160 million people across Africa without enough food. This is a catastrophic, deadly emergency, on a scale we’ve not seen in recent history. Find out more about the Africa food crisis.
Right now, more than 160 million people in parts of Africa are struggling without the food they need to survive.
Hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of losing their lives. In Somalia alone, approximately 43,000 people died due to this deadly crisis in 2022.
Unlike other emergencies, there isn't one event that has caused the food crisis. It is a long, drawn-out emergency and a slow, dangerous killer that pushes some of the most resilient and resourceful people in the world to breaking point.
The worst drought in 40 years, combined with conflict, the ongoing impact of climate change, shortages resulting from the Ukraine crisis, and rising food prices have created a desperately urgent situation.
The scale of the food crisis is hard to comprehend. People are being affected in Central, West, and East Africa including the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa countries of Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
The UN has said that hunger in Somalia may soon reach famine levels, with 4.3 million people at risk.
But there is hope and together we can get help where it's needed. The Red Cross and our partners the Red Crescent, and other charity organisations, are working with local communities to provide lifesaving aid. This includes help with food, water, nutrition services, and healthcare.
We're also helping to deal with the root causes of hunger to provide long-term support to communities and make a difference in the future.
Find out more:
Countries and people affected by the food crisis include:
In East Africa
In Central and West Africa
- Niger – over 3 million people
- Nigeria – over 24.5 million people
- The Sahel region – over 7.9 million people
Nigeria: "The need is real and the need is great"
In West Africa, people in Nigeria are struggling under the terrible burdens of climate change and conflict.
And the crisis is getting worse fast, with 24.5 million people facing hunger.
Our video from a Red Cross aid worker in Nigeria explains how this deadly combination is taking its toll.
The food crisis in numbers:
- In Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria it’s expected that 10.3 million children under 5 will suffer acute malnutrition in 2023.
- In Nigeria alone, an overwhelming 24.5 million people don’t have enough to eat.
- In Africa right now, hunger is contributing to 45% of children’s deaths.
- In Somalia approximately 43,000 died in 2022 because of the droughts – half were children under 5.
- Across parts of Africa, crop production has drastically decreased – in Niger by 40% and in Kenya by a staggering 70%. 9.5 million animals in the Horn of Africa have died due to drought.
- In Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, the number of children at risk of dropping out of school because of the drought tripled in three months – from 1.1. million to an estimated 3.3 million, according to UNICEF.
A snapshot of how we're helping:
In East Africa
Kenya: The Kenya Red Cross has supported more than 365,000 people so far and is working to support 500,000 more. Workers and volunteers are providing food, clean water, health clinics, support for livestock and cash grants.
Ethiopia: We've supported over 600,000 people to meet their basic needs, including food, cash grants and help with farming.
Somalia: The Somali Red Crescent has supported 500,000 people so far, including over 100,000 through clinics and mobile health clinics in the most affected areas
In West Africa
Nigeria: The Nigerian Red Cross has provided food, essential household items, seeds, tools, and cash grants, and plans to reach 200,000 more people. Those forced to flee their homes also received shelter, and pregnant and breastfeeding women have been given special nutritious food.
Africa food crisis: the three
People often talk about the three Cs driving hunger in Africa: climate change, Covid and conflict.
The climate crisis is triggering extreme weather. The worst drought in 40 years has left lands across East Africa bone dry.
All over the world, people still feel the impact of Covid-19. It is even more devastating for the poorest communities in Africa, now facing drought while still recovering from Covid.
Today, there are more than 35 armed conflicts taking place in Africa and around 30 million people have been forced to flee their homes, also losing their farms and livelihoods.
Making a difference in the long-term
We know this crisis can’t be solved overnight and that long-term solutions are needed to help those in need. That’s why, as well as lifesaving aid, we’re helping communities adapt by providing tools, skills, and training that allow people to build long-term resilience.
- providing seeds that can grow in times of drought
- building irrigation systems
- developing urban gardens
- using technology to predict optimal crop planting
Working together to tackle the biggest problems
Humanitarian aid organisations like the Red Cross rely on people's generosity to fund our ongoing work. But we also recognise that it will take political will and resources to tackle the root causes of this crisis. This means governments, the private sector, and humanitarian groups working together to bring about long-lasting solutions such as:
- early weather warning systems
- meeting climate change objectives
- adapting farming and food production to work with the changing climate
Without such action, many more lives will be lost, and the cycle of suffering will endure for years to come. You can make a difference and support this work.
Find out more and take action
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Climate change is already devastating people's lives. Find out how we're helping.