Food Crisis In Horn Of Africa

Wednesday 6 July 2011, 4:15PM
By Oxfam

Oxfam New Zealand is today launching an appeal to raise $100,000. This is part of Oxfam’s global appeal for assistance to the 12 million people across Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya who face starvation. Oxfam needs $100 million globally to reach 3 million people in dire need of clean water, food and basic sanitation.

“A contribution of $100,000 from New Zealand would make a huge difference in saving lives. This is the worst food crisis of the 21st century and we are seriously concerned that large numbers of lives could soon be lost,” said Barry Coates, Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director. “Two successive poor rains, entrenched poverty and lack of investment in affected areas have pushed 12 million people into a fight for survival. People have already lost virtually everything and the crisis is only going to get worse over the coming months – we urgently need funds to help reach people with life-saving food and water.”

The epicentre of the drought has hit the poorest people in the region, in an area straddling the borders of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, where families rely heavily on livestock for survival. In some parts of the region, up to 60 per cent of herds have already died while the remainder are sick or dangerously underweight. The price of animals has plummeted by half while the cost of cereals has soared. In Somalia the price of a main staple sorghum has risen by a massive 240 per cent since this time last year.

Malnutrition rates in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are alarming and well above emergency levels – in some places five times higher than crisis threshold. In Dolo Ado, a camp in southern Ethiopia for Somali refugees, malnutrition rates are the highest recorded in this region since the nineties.

“The aid effort faces enormous hurdles. There is not enough money to buy food in the quantities required and the price of maize has risen by up to 40 per cent since a year ago in the region. The cost of fuel needed to transport food to the epicentre has also shot up. We need to scale up the level of our response to overcome these hurdles,” said Coates.

Oxfam is responding, reaching people with life-saving water, basic sanitation, food and cash. In Kenya, Oxfam aims to help 1.3 million people with clean water, cash initiatives and support to keep families’ animals alive to produce food and income. In Somalia it will expand its work in clean water, promotion of hygiene and veterinary drugs to support three quarters of a million people. In Ethiopia the agency aims to reach approximately one million people with clean water, basic sanitation and veterinary support.

“This is a preventable disaster and solutions are possible. It’s no coincidence that the worst affected areas are the poorest and least developed in the region. This is the driest year in northern Kenya since 1950/51, and this region is highly vulnerable to the changing climate. Drought is becoming the new norm and more needs to be done to make sure communities are more resilient to increasingly frequent crises in the future,” said Coates.

To donate to Oxfam’s Horn of Africa response visit, or call 0800 400 666.


• At least 12 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are affected: 2.85 million people in Somalia, 3.5 million in Kenya and 3.2 million in Ethiopia. This number is expected to increase.
• Oxfam has decades of experience in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, with the staff and local partners who can manage a scale-up to meet this crisis. So far, Oxfam’s work has reached more than one million people affected by the droughts. This appeal aims to scale up assistance to reach 3 million people.
• Oxfam launched its GROW campaign last month calling for international action to prevent a mounting crisis in the world’s food systems.