7 Million People Across East Africa in Dire SituationLast Update：2021/06/29
A deadly mix of conflict, climate crisis and the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 is driving sharp increases in hunger and malnutrition across the globe, making it the worst hunger crisis in decades. Globally, average food prices are now the highest in seven years. The number of people facing hunger has doubled in a year to 270 million. People that are experiencing emergency levels of food insecurity are at high risk of slipping into famine-like conditions, and are at heightened risk of severe malnutrition or death due to lack of food and access to essential health and nutrition services. The majority of people affected by this situation were already highly vulnerable and living in humanitarian or fragile contexts.
In particular, in East Africa, more than 7 million people are at the very edge of starvation. Of critical concern are vulnerable children who are experiencing high levels of malnutrition. According to United Nations (UN)’ reports, approximately 108,000 people in East Africa are under catastrophic famine-conditions, a phase marked by critical acute malnutrition, starvation, destitution and death.
East Africa’s agriculture has been heavily dependent on the balance of the dry and rainy seasons, and food supply has never been stable. Since late 2019, the region has endured substantial and widespread breeding of desert locusts, resulting in loss of pasture and crops. Between June and December 2020, large-scale floods further affected more than four million people across the region.
The rising food insecurity also increases the risks faced by women and girls, including gender-based violence and sexual exploitation and abuse. The indirect impacts and aftershocks of COVID-19 also persist for children and their communities in East Africa. This means a decline in income opportunities, lost livelihoods, diminished purchasing power and limited access to basic food and services.
A complex mixture of prolonged conflict, wide spread locust infestation and the residual effects of cyclone Gati that hit the Somali coast in November 2020, destroying 144,000 hectares of crops yields and vast herds of livestock has left the population with little harvest to take them through to the next harvesting cycle. One million children are estimated to be acutely malnourished and 2.8 million people are projected to face high levels of acute food insecurity by September 2021.
Thousands of locusts have swarmed a farmer's property in Togdheer region as unusual rains created perfect breeding conditions for locusts. The locusts have exacerbated food insecurity and impacted millions of people across East Africa.
The conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia, has dramatically increased food insecurity. Prior to the outbreak, food insecurity in the country was already widespread.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has predicted dry conditions and worsening food insecurity situation. On top of this, the economic impact of COVID-19 lockdowns has destroyed livelihoods and pushed millions into desperation.
More than 2 million people are experiencing food insecurity at emergency phase and could tip over to the catastrophic phase if mitigation measures are not taken quickly. It is estimated that 10 million people are already at crisis state.
The situation is further exacerbated by the ongoing conflict in Tigray Region. The cascading effects of conflict such as population displacements, movement restrictions, limited humanitarian access, loss of harvest and livelihood assets, and dysfunctional markets all contribute to the severe crisis.
These children are displaced with their mother Tekay. They are only some of the many victims due to the conflict in Tigray Region.
Rahel, a mother of four, says, “This war is so brutal that I do not wish it even to a cruel enemy. Innocent children are wandering about instead of being in school.” Rahel’s fellow brothers and sisters have died while seeking places to hide.
Kenya is likely to experience civil unrest as more than 200,000 people are in emergency level of food insecurity, especially in urban areas. Furthermore, the country has 1 million people meeting their food needs through crisis coping strategies, such as reducing food intake and selling livestock. It is anticipated that more people’s food insecurity state will tip over from crisis to emergency during the lean season.
Internally displaced people in Turkana seeking refuge in the wild suffer severe malnutrition.
Pastoralists quenching their thirst along with their animals upon finding a water source after travelling a long distance.
South Sudan is facing the two-fold blow of climate change and war. It is estimated that over 5.8 million people in South Sudan are experiencing food insecurity. The situation is projected to deteriorate and push more people from crisis to emergency phase in the upcoming lean season.
Hunger, COVID-19 and traditional practices force girls in South Sudan into early marriage. 19-year-old Bakita dropped out from school and is married to a 65-year old man.
World Vision’s Response
World Vision is conducting emergency responses in multiple countries across East Africa to address the critical needs of children and their families. Our works include:
Food and Nutrition
- Distribute emergency food packs*, drought-tolerant seeds and other agricultural inputs
- Monitor nutrition status of infants, pregnant and lactating mothers and provide treatment means
- Provide training for villagers to reduce the impact of locusts
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
- Rehabilitate water facilities to provide water for communities
- Distribute hygiene items to communities in need
- Conduct protection projects and supply relief items, in order to prevent children and women from exploitation and harm due to hunger
- Provide livelihood assistance to help families recover
- Distribute cash to help families meet their most pressing needs
* World Vision partners with World Food Programme to distribute food aid in Somalia, Kenya and South Sudan.