25 million people face extreme hunger if drought continues in East Africa

By International Rescue Committee

25 million people face extreme hunger if drought continues in East Africa

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is scaling up its response to the East Africa drought – the worst seen in 40 years – with $5 million to provide urgent humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. But the scale of needs resulting from extreme drought is overwhelming. The gap in funding for the humanitarian response plans for the region will cost lives – more funding is needed to support the 25 million people in East Africa facing extreme hunger and water shortages. IRC calls for a coordinated, urgent response from donors and the international community to protect lives, livelihoods and prevent famine.

Frank McManus, Country Director for Ethiopia at the IRC, says, “La Nina weather patterns and climate change has led to the driest conditions seen in Ethiopia in more than 40 years leading to 307,000 people becoming displaced as they search for water, food, and new pastures for farming. Humanitarian needs in Ethiopia are soaring as drought is exacerbated by ongoing conflict across the country. The IRC has committed 2.5 million USD to provide critical services to people in Ethiopia alone living through this severe drought, but much more needs to be done in order to meet the scale of need. The 2011 drought was catastrophic, more than 260,000 people in Eastern Africa lost their lives and millions of others went hungry as a result of extreme drought and failed crop production. This year is on track to be much worse. We urge donors, the international community, and civil society to collaborate on managing this massive shock.”

The crisis in Ukraine will make matters worse. The increasing cost of fuel risks driving up food prices, and fewer people will be able to access wheat imported from Ukraine and Russia- the source of 90% of East Africa’s imported wheat.

The IRC is responding to the drought in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, providing essential services such as water and cash assistance to those impacted. Without investing in more humanitarian support, IRC will see a longer-term impact on the population with their livelihoods and assets eroded. IRC is scaling up its response in southeastern Ethiopia through this contribution but much more needs to be done to meet the scale of needs.