Geneva/Nairobi, 07 December 2023: In response to the growing hunger crisis across sub-Saharan Africa, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is amplifying its call to action amidst growing concerns of crisis fatigue. To this end, the IFRC has revised its funding appeal to 318 million Swiss Francs, now aiming to reach 18 countries.
More than a year has passed since the initial launch of the Africa hunger crisis appeal, yet the needs continue to outpace support received. Originally set at 215 million Swiss Francs for 16 countries, only 59 million Swiss Francs has been raised. This humanitarian crisis, intensified by recurring droughts, El Niño-induced floods, conflicts and economic downturns, demands an immediate response to prevent widespread suffering, loss of lives and livelihoods.
Around 157 million people in 35 countries across sub-Saharan Africa face acute food insecurity. Despite early warnings from African Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies, more funding and resources are needed. The Horn of Africa has been particularly hard-hit, enduring its longest dry spell on record with five consecutive dry seasons. In contrast, regions like eastern Kenya, parts of South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Tanzania experienced heavier than usual rains during the October-December season, leading to flooding that further aggravated the situation for those already facing acute food insecurity. This mix of extreme weather conditions, along with ongoing conflicts, has led to varied harvest outcomes across the continent.
Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are witnessing heart-wrenching conditions where many, including women and children, survive on less than one meal a day.
Mohamed Omer Mukhier, Regional Director for Africa, emphasized the continued urgency:
“In the past year, the dire need for resources in tackling the current hunger crisis has been evident with millions of people deprived of water, food and health services. While this crisis has intensified, it has been largely overshadowed by more visible crises over the past year. Considering its magnitude across the continent, we urgently call for expanded support to pursue our collective lifesaving and life-sustaining mobilization.”
These countries are currently at the heart of the hunger crisis: Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
African Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies have been instrumental in providing life-saving assistance to millions affected by this crisis. So far, they have reached 1.53 million people. Most of the aid provided has been water and sanitation services, reaching over 1.2 million people. Additionally, over 725,000 people received cash assistance and over 450,000 received health and nutrition support.
This underscores the IFRC's commitment to transitioning from immediate relief to sustainable, long-term resilience strategies in the region. The revised appeal will focus on improving agricultural practices, fostering peace and stability and creating economic opportunities.
For more details, visit the Africa Hunger Crisis appeal page.
For audio-visual material, visit the IFRC newsroom.
To request an interview, contact: [email protected]
Anne Macharia: +254 720 787 764
Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67
Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 76 381 50 06
By Timothy Maina, IFRC communications officer
Not too long ago, people living in the Cuun village were grappling with the challenge of basic survival.
Access to clean water for both domestic and agricultural purposes remained a constant struggle. The community's reliance on hand-dug artesian wells, which were prone to flooding during rainy seasons and regular siltation, significantly reduced their water yield.
This scarcity had a detrimental impact on their health and well-being, hindering their ability to cultivate crops, fruits, vegetables, and raise livestock
“We struggled to access clean water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and livelihood support,” says one of the community leaders, Yasiin Maxamed Jamac. “This had a negative impact on our health and well-being, and it made it difficult for us to grow crops, fruit, vegetables and raise livestock.”
In 2022, the Somalia Red Crescent Society (SRCS), with the support from the IFRC, rehabilitated the solar-powered borehole pump and provided the Cuun community with adequate water sources for human and animal consumption, as well as irrigation purposes, as part of the IFRC's Africa Hunger Crises Emergency Appeal.
Located in the Somali semi-autonomous state of Puntland, the village is less than 400 kilometers from the tip of the Horn of Africa. Like many other parts of Somalia and the Horn of Africa region, Cuun has suffered from recurring failed rainy seasons and occasional flash floods in recent years.
Since 2021, Somalia has been under a state of national emergency due to ongoing drought. At the same time, the region around Cuun has also been destabilized by armed violence and population movement — adding to the challenges for those trying to maintain stable livelihoods.
A landscape transformed
The project with Cuun village is just one example of how the IFRC and National Societies such as the SRCS join forces with local communities to re-inforce local resilience to climate-related shocks and unpredictable weather patterns, which have been aggravated by climate change. It’s the kind of urgent local action the IFRC is calling on world leaders to support at COP28 Climate Summit from 30 Nov. to 12 December.
For the village of Cuun, the project has had a transformative impact. Over 100 households now have their own small farms — 100 metres by 100 metres — where they cultivate a variety of fruits, vegetables, and crops, including papaya, lemon, watermelon, onion, tomatoes, pepper, carrot, sweet potato, coriander, sorghum, beans, and maize.
The community sells 80 per cent of their harvest in nearby cities, earning an average income of USD 200 to USD 500 per month per household. This represents a significant increase in their income and livelihood, enabling them to improve their food security and overall well-being.
One of the beneficiaries of the project is Mama Ruqya*, a mother of eight.She and her family recently moved to Cuun village with their herd of goats looking for pasture. SRCS identified Mama Ruqya as one of the beneficiaries of the 5-month Cash Voucher Assistance programme, which provides people with cash vouchers that can be redeemed for food, water, and other essential items.
“During the recent drought season, SRCS supported us with US$ 80 cash grants for five months and it has sustained us a lot,” says Mama Ruqya. “Now as we are in the last stage of the prolonged drought and hoping for rain, we are grateful for the support that we have received.”
The initial rains have brought some relief to the herding and farming communities in Cuun village. Mama Ruqya and her family supplement their food supplies and water from the nearby Cuun village while their livestock graze in the reviving plains.
*Not her real name, to protect the identity of her children
“Gargaar” is a local Somali word used in Djibouti to express community solidarity. Evident throughout the country, gargaar means communities are hospitable and welcoming, ready to host and help anyone they encounter.
With fighting and insecurity in neighbouring Ethiopia and Somalia, more people are coming into Djibouti and so gargaar is on full display in many communities across the country. But with the area also going through one of the worst series of successive droughts in history, it’s clear that much more must be done to meet the mounting needs of people hit by the combined impacts of conflict, migration and climate change.
Most travel more than 500 kilometres by foot, some continuing to the Gulf countries such as Yemen and Saudi Arabia across the Red Sea. The arduous and long journey, through harsh heat, across wild terrain and over rough seas, bears a heavy toll on men, women, and children. Many die along the way.
‘By God’s grace we have made it here,” says Fatouma, who came to Chekeyti, in southwestern Djibouti, from Ethiopia with her two young children. She is exhausted and her baby is restless from fatigue. They walked over 600 kilometres in unimaginable heat, through a landscape full of hyenas and snakes, and always in danger of harassment.
“I had no choice; life was unbearable because of the clashes in Afar-Somali region and the lack of food because of drought,” she explains. “I heard life is better and more peaceful in Djibouti. We walked for days. Some days the thirst was unbearable. My children came very close to death. Some of the people we were with did not make it.”
The community in Chekyeti welcomed them to settle and even use their water from a ‘barkaad’ (an underground water reservoir) nearby. When Djibouti Red Crescent in a recent assessment asked the community leader the most vulnerable households to receive cash distribution, they did not hesitate to also nominate the Ethiopian migrants living among them.
This shows how deep rooted gargaar is in Djibouti, despite the host communities being themselves stretched of resources such as food and water. Successive droughts in the last decade means that many Djiboutian pastoralists have lost their livestock and livelihoods and have found themselves internally displaced, impoverished and dependent on humanitarian assistance.
To ‘die trying’
The generosity of strangers therefore can be a critical lifeline and the Djibouti Red Crescent Society (DRCS) plays a critical role, reaching out to people at critical points in their journey when they are most vulnerable.
Young men, some not more than thirteen years old, undertake the journey unaware of the dangers ahead. Family members back in Ethiopia invest all their life savings so these young people can search for a better life. As a result, the migrants cannot bear to turn back and be seen as failures. They often say they would rather ‘die trying’.
The DRCS therefore has endeavored to bring services through mobile units that meet many of these young men, women and children out on the migration routes. Using only one vehicle, a driver and volunteers, the Red Crescent here has assisted more than 7,000 migrants within seven months through first aid, water, energy dry food, family links and psychosocial support.
These mobile units and humanitarian service points offered lifesaving interventions in both the northern and southern parts of Djibouti’s key migration route. Unfortunately, DRCS had to stop this operation due to lack of resources.
“The situation of drought-induced hunger is alarming,” says Amina Houssein, the secretary general of DRCS. “Unemployment and low levels of social protection, along with rising food prices and very low levels of food production means families are likely to go by with just a meal a day.”
“The incidences of floods, high heat, droughts, as well as the prevalence of diseases and shocks have hit rural communities the hardest,” Hussein adds. “Our priority actions have been lifesaving basic needs assistance through multipurpose cash assistance, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene for human and animal consumption.”
Through a Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, or DREF, allocation from IFRC in August, the DRCS has been able to deliver assistance to 45,000 people. But the needs are still enormous. Projections from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification indicate that around 285,000 people, representing 24 percent of the total Djibouti population, will be acutely food insecure, and around 100,000 people will be in emergency food insecurity, by the end of the year. More than 30,000 children under 5 years of age are also expected to face acute malnutrition this year.
Dire need of support
A small National Society of just 37 staff, five branches and some 1,000 volunteers, DRCS is committed to doing the most with its incredibly stretched resources. With availability of funds, DRCS would like to revive its Mobile Humanitarian Service Points assistance to migrants, including those who entered the country outside legal channels.
Such “irregular migrants”, as they are often called, face high vulnerability to economic exploitation by smugglers, abuse, physical and/or gender violence, potential for disease transmission, poor humanitarian conditions and loss of life.
But these are not the only challenges the National Society faces. Recent sudden floods, mostly in the highlands of neighbouring Ethiopia, has also displaced more Djiboutians and left some communities completely cut off.
“With the predicted El-Nino set to happen end of the year, we will need more help to mitigate the effects of flooding in this area,” says Mohamed Abass Houmed, governor of the Tadjourah region, which faces high risk of continued flooding. “Our biggest disadvantage is the poor shelter and road network especially in remote communities. In the event of a flood, some already vulnerable communities will be cut off”.
Surviving with cash support and charcoal
As part of its hunger crisis respone, the Djibouti Red Crescent distributed cash to a targeted 1,500 households. In one locality, they were able to do so through mobile money transfers. Meanwhile, families are doing whatever they can to survive. For most, the three rounds of cash distribution, which they used mostly for food and medicine, were not enough.
To adapt to the erratic weather patterns and make ends meet, most communities abandoned pastoralism and farming and resorted to charcoal burning. Cutting down of trees for charcoal, however, inadvertently worsens conditions and increasing their climate risk.
“Ask any community here in Djibouti what is their greatest need — you will get a resounding call for water,” says DRCS’s Houssein. “With the availability of funds, we at DRCS would additionally like to support communities through water rehabilitation projects, as well as tree planting as a mitigation measure for future climatic shocks.”
Across the Horn of Africa, people are entering their sixth rainy season without rain.
For the last two and a half years the water that fills community water points, nourishes livestock, and grows vegetables, has not flowed. Surface water is gone and the sometimes green environment is dry and dusty.
The ongoing drought, paired with conflict and rising food prices, has led to food insecurity, displacement, and the death of livestock. This, in turn, affects people's livelihoods and health, and leads to malnutrition.
Across the country, Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) teams run static and mobile health clinics that serve rural and remote communities in hard to reach areas. These clinics provide basic health care and routine immunizations, as well as screening for malnutrition and providing nutritional support. The staff refer severe cases of malnutrition to larger medical centres and hospitals.
In recent months, Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) teams have reported seeingincreasing numbers of children with malnutrition who need nutritional support.
Here are some of the families they've been helping.
Basra Ahmed Cabdale, brought her children to a Somali Red Crescent Society clinic near Borama to be screened for malnutrition. Her daughter, 3-year-old Nimco Adbikadir Hassan, was found to be moderately malnourished.
Cabdale said that before the drought, her family would eat tomatoes and onions with sorghum and maize. They would also have milk and meat from their animals. However, without water, crops aren’t growing, livestock is dying and they need to sell off their animals to buy food and necessities at the local market.
“Our biggest worry is the loss of our animals and the lack of food,” she said. “It takes two hours [to walk to the water point] and we have to form a long queue to get it.”
Halima Mohmoud Abah visited the Somali Red Crescent Society clinic in a village near Berbera with four of her children. She was worried about the weight of her baby and her daughter Mardiye Abdullahi Ali, 4. While Mardiye had her height, weight, and arm circumference measured, Halima talked about some of her concerns.
“There is a drought, water for livestock has been limited and there's not enough for crops,” she said.
When Mardiye’s results come in, she is borderline malnourished.
“I am worried for the health of the children,” she said. “If it continues, it will result in bad things... death, of animals and humans.”
In the Somali Red Crescent Society clinic in Burao, the staff make sure all children who are acutely or moderately malnourished receive a high-calorie nutritional supplement – Plumpy'Sup or Plumpy'Nut.
Children like Maslah Yasin Usman get their first supplement in the clinic, and their mothers are given enough to take home.
His mother, Farhiya Abdi Ahmed, is one of many mothers who bring their children into this clinic in for screening.
Somalia is one of many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa currently contending with one of the worst food crises in decades.
The IFRC is supporting National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the region, including the Somali Red Crescent Society, to protect the lives, livelihoods and prospects of millions of people. Find out more about our Africa Hunger Crisis Appeal.
Nairobi/Geneva, 19 December 2022 - Somalia’s worst drought in 40 years is forcing more and more people to leave their homes in search of food security and greener pastures for livestock. Without special attention to displaced people, the likelihood of famine will increase by about 25 percent, according to estimations by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The ongoing hunger crisis in Somalia does not yet meet the threshold for a famine categorization, according to the latest report by theIntegrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)—the international organization responsible for monitoring global hunger—but the situation is likely worsen in the coming months. IPC forecasts famine between April and June 2023 in parts of Somalia.
Mohammed Mukhier, IFRC’s regional director for Africa explained:
“Displacement is one of the four major factors, or ‘threat multipliers for famine’, in Somalia. The other three factors include worsening drought, increasing food prices and fighting. Addressing the unique needs of displaced people efficiently will reduce the probability of famine significantly.”
Over one million people have been forced to leave their homes as the hunger crisis rages—and this number is expected to rise. The increasing number of displaced people in already overcrowded temporary settlements will limit access to clean water, sanitation, nutrition and health services. Further, although some displaced people live with their friends and relatives, this arrangement puts additional strain on host families, who share their limited food reserves with guests. Providing displaced people with tailormade humanitarian assistance is one of the most efficient ways of protecting host families from slipping into hunger themselves, while at the same time ensuring people on the move meet their nutritional needs.
Bringing humanitarian assistance to families who are continually on the move is one of the greatest challenges aid workers face. One of the methods used by Somali Red Crescent teams, supported by the IFRC, is to reach nomadic communities with mobile clinicsto provide basic health services in remote regions of the country.
Some of the urgent actions needed to reduce the likelihood of famine include the strengthening of health and nutrition services, cash assistance and shelter.
Mukhier added: “We reiterate our call to prioritize the growing hunger crisis in Somalia, the country’s worst drought in 40 years. As an organisation, our focus is on displaced people, because of our unique ability to reach them with assistance.”
The Somali Red Crescent Society has a countrywide network of branches and a large number of volunteers in all parts of the country. It also has a wide network of health facilities. Red Crescent teams’ focus is on delivering cash to families to meet their food, health and other urgent needs. Cash gives people the freedom to choose what they need most to help their families stay healthy and is more convenient for nomadic communities who would otherwise need to carry in-kind aid with them as they move.
According to IPC, the April-June 2023 rainy season is likely to be below normal and there is a 62 per cent probability that cumulative rainfall will be within the lowest tercile. This will represent the sixth season of below-average rainfall. Food prices will also remain high, and insecurity will limit access to markets and will impede humanitarian assistance. Displaced people will be among the most affected.
For more information, please contact:
In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 735 437 906, [email protected]
In Dakar: Moustapha DIALLO, +221 77 450 10 04 [email protected]
In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803 [email protected]
Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing one of the most alarming food crises in decades—immense in both its severity and geographic scope.Roughly 146 million people are suffering from acute food insecurity and require urgent humanitarian assistance. The crisis is driven by a range of local and global factors, including insecurity and armed conflict, extreme weather events, climate variability and negative macroeconomic impacts. Through this regional Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting many Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across Africa to protect the lives, livelihoods and prospects of millions of people.
Geneva, 13 September 2022 (ICRC/IFRC) – The warning lights are flashing on high: armed conflict, climate-related emergencies, economic hardship and political obstacles are leading to a growing wave of hunger in countries around the world. The misery for millions will deepen without immediate urgent action.
Systems-level improvements must be made to escape a cycle of recurrent crises, including investments in climate-smart food production in conflict-affected areas, and reliable mechanisms to support hard-to-reach communities hit by food shortages and skyrocketing prices, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said ahead of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.
The international armed conflict in Ukraine has greatly disrupted global food supply systems as well as future harvests in many countries due to the impact it’s having on the availability of fertilizer. The importance of more shipments by the Black Sea grain initiative reaching vulnerable populations in East Africa cannot be overstated. Too few grain shipments are getting to where they are needed.
As hunger emergencies hit the headlines, the risk of crisis fatigue is high. Yet what’s uniquely frightening about this moment is the breadth and depth of the needs. More than 140 million people face acute food insecurity due to conflict and instability, even as climate change and economic precarity indicate that hunger needs will rise in the coming months.
Political will and resources are needed now. Without them, many lives will be lost, and the suffering will endure for years. An emergency response alone will not end these hunger crises. Concerted action and long-term approaches are the only way to break the cycle.
While addressing urgent needs, it is essential to set the foundation for resilience. More efforts must be made — by governments, private sectors, and humanitarian and development groups — to support long-term food security, livelihoods, and resilience plans.
Measures must include investments in strengthening grassroots food systems and community actors to sustainably achieve food and economic security. One of the approaches to consider is anticipatory action for food security, based on forecasts and risk analysis.
Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC, said:
“Two dozen countries across Africa are grappling with the worst food crisis in decades. Some 22 million people in the Horn of Africa are in the clutches of starvation due to such compounding crises as drought, flooding, COVID-19’s economic effects, conflict – even desert locusts. Behind the staggeringly high numbers are real people – men, women and children battling death-level hunger every day. The situation is expected to deteriorate into 2023. However, with swift action, many lives can be saved. We need urgent and massive action to scale up life-saving assistance to millions of people in dire need of aid, but also to decisively address the root causes of this crisis through longer term commitments.”
The IFRC and its membership—which consists of Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in nearly every corner of the globe—are delivering aid in hard-to-reach communities. Assistance includes getting cash into the hands of families to meet food, health and other urgent needs. In Nigeria, Red Cross volunteers focus on pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, whose nutrition is paramount for healthy births and childhoods. In Madagascar, volunteers restore land and water sources through anti-erosion activities, the construction of water points, and a focus on irrigation in addition to traditional ways to fight hunger, like nutrition monitoring.
Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC, said:
“Conflict is a huge driver of hunger. We see violence preventing farmers from planting and harvesting. We see sanctions and blockades preventing food delivery to the most vulnerable. My wish is that we build resiliency into the fabric of humanitarian response, so that communities suffer less when violence and climate change upend lives. A cycle of band-aid solutions will not be enough in coming years.”
The ICRC this year has helped nearly 1 million people in south and central Somalia buy a month’s worth of food by distributing cash to more than 150,000 households. A similar programme in Nigeria helped 675,000 people, while more than a quarter million people received climate smart agriculture inputs to restore crop production. The ICRC works to strengthen resilience through seeds, tools and livestock care so that residents can better absorb recurrent shocks. And its medical professionals are running stabilization centres in places like Somalia, where kids are getting specialized nutrition care.
Communities around the world are suffering deep hardship. A short snapshot of some of the regions in need includes:
In Sub-Saharan Africa: One in three children under the age of five is stunted by chronic undernutrition, while two out of five women of childbearing age are anaemic because of poor diets. The majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1.90 a day.
In Afghanistan: The combination of three decades of armed conflict and an economic crash resulting in few job opportunities and a massive banking crisis are having a devastating effect on Afghan families’ ability to buy food. More than half the country – 24 million – need assistance. The International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement welcomes any measure aimed at easing the effect of economic sanctions. But given the depth of the humanitarian crisis, long-term solutions are also needed, including the resumption of projects and investments by states and development agencies in key infrastructure.
In Pakistan: The recent flooding has led to an estimated $12 billion in losses. Food security in the country was alarming before this latest catastrophe, with 43 percent of the population food insecure. Now the number of acutely hungry people is expected to rise substantially. Some 78,000 square kilometers (21 million acres) of crops are under water. An estimated 65 percent of the country’s food basket – crops like rice and wheat– have been destroyed, with over 733,000 livestock reportedly killed. The floods will also negatively affect food delivery into neighboring Afghanistan.
In Somalia: We have seen a five-fold increase in the number of malnourished children needing care. Last month the Bay Regional Hospital in Baidoa admitted 466 children, up from 82 in August 2021. Children admitted here die without the specialized nutritional care they receive.
In Syria: Food insecurity rates have risen more than 50 percent since 2019. Today, two-thirds of Syria’s population –12.4 million out of 18 million – can’t meet their daily food needs. The compounding effects of more than a decade of conflict, including the consequences of sanctions, have crippled people’s buying power. Food prices have risen five-fold in the last two years.
In Yemen: Most Yemenis survive on one meal a day. Last year 53 percent of Yemen’s population were food insecure. This year it’s 63 percent – or some 19 million people. Aid actors have been forced to cut food assistance due to a lack of funds. Some 5 million people will now receive less than 50 percent of their daily nutritional requirement because of it.
Notes to editors
For more information, please contact:
IFRC:Tommaso Della Longa, [email protected], +41 79 708 43 67
IFRC: Jenelle Eli, [email protected], +41 79 935 97 40
ICRC:Crystal Wells, [email protected], +41 79 642 80 56
ICRC: Jason Straziuso, [email protected], +41 79 949 35 12
Horn of Africa photos and b-roll
Pakistan floods photos and b-roll
Somalia cash programme photos and b-roll
Kenya sees climate shocks b-roll
Nairobi/Geneva, 7 September 2022—Nearly a million people have been forced to leave their homes in search of food and water in parts of Somalia and Kenya, as a catastrophic hunger crisis continues to unfold. More than 22 million people are approaching or experiencing a complete lack of food in the Horn of Africa. The situation is projected to get worse in early 2023. Nomadic communities are particularly hard hit by food shortages and skyrocketing prices. While food and funds will address part of the problem, without a reliable mechanism of reaching nomadic families with consistent and holistic humanitarian assistance, the world’s response to the hunger crisis will remain both inefficient and insufficient, warned the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) today.
Mohamed Babiker, IFRC’s head of Kenya and Somalia delegation said:
“Millions of lives are at risk. But as the humanitarian community accelerates its response, we should ensure that mistakes of the past decades are not repeated. It is crucial that aid is not just available—but that it also reaches the right people in an efficient manner. Most of the affected families are from pastoralist communities, who are often nomadic, and can only be reached by those who are close enough to them to keep up with their movements to provide uninterrupted assistance. A local response is vital.”
In Kenya, most of the areas experiencing food insecurity are in the Arid and Semi-arid lands (ASAL) areas, where communities practice pastoralism and therefore depend mainly on meat and milk for nutrition and income. The lack of rain has forced families out of their homes, in search of water and pasture.
In Somalia, women and girls have been disproportionally affected by the crisis as they tend to travel long distances in search of water and firewood. They have also been separated from their families and remain behind with the livestock while the men and boys migrate in search of pasture and water.
Babiker added: “The response is facing two major challenges. The biggest one is the lack of sufficient resources to purchase emergency relief items. However, even if you have the money, you need to be able to reach these nomadic communities, in an efficient and consistent manner. This is crucial. We call upon partners and donors to invest in institutions that have reliable access to families on the move.”
Bringing humanitarian assistance to families who are constantly on the move is one of the greatest challenges aid workers face. In response, Red Crescent teams in Somalia work closely with nomadic communities, so there is never a question about where to deliver aid. These volunteers come from the very communities they serve. With recent reports that more than 700 children have died in nutrition centres across Somalia, it is even more crucial that aid organizations reach affected people in their communities before their situation becomes critical as some do not reach health centres, or arrive when it is too late.
In addition to food, people affected by drought also need health services. During field visits to Puntland and other parts of the country, IFRC and Somali Red Crescent teams care for displaced people who are exhausted and sick. Red Crescent teams in Somalia, supported by the IFRC, reach nomadic communities with mobile clinics to provide basic health services in remote regions of the country.
“Our strength lies in our volunteer network which comes from the communities we serve. They understand the cultural context and local languages and have in-depth knowledge and understanding of affected communities,” said Babiker.
Red Cross and Red Crescent teams will also focus on delivering cash to families to meet their food, health and other urgent needs. Cash gives people the freedom to choose what they need most to help their families stay healthy and is more convenient for nomadic communities who would otherwise need to carry in-kind aid with them as they move. To date, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in Kenya and Somalia have reached, collectively, at least 645,000 people affected by the drought with health services, cash assistance, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Note to editors: New high-quality photos and videos from drought affected parts of Somalia and Kenya are available at this link: https://www.ifrcnewsroom.org/
For more information, please contact:
In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 735 437 906, [email protected]
In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924, [email protected]
Food insecurity is not a new phenomenon. But the recent escalation in severity and geographical spread of chronic hunger is serious cause for alarm.
The hunger crisis is most starkly felt on the African continent, where many regions, notably the Horn of Africa, Sahel and Lake Chad regions, are experiencing the worst food crisis in decades.
Millions of people are facing hunger across Africa—prompting the IFRC to launch Emergency Appeals for hunger crises in Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Niger and Angola all within the past year.
Back in May, I met some of those affected whilevisiting drought-affected areas in Marsabit County, Kenya—where levels of malnutrition are among the highest on the continent.
I saw first-hand the level of suffering caused by a severe lack of rainfall over four consecutive seasons, coupled with pre-existing vulnerability in parts of the County. Children, young mothers and the elderly are most affected and facing near depletion of their livelihoods.
Although this hunger crisis is, to a large extent, climate-induced, it is also driven by the effects of widespread locust swarms, disease outbreaks, conflict and insecurity, and economic slowdowns—including those triggered by COVID-19.
Furthermore, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is disrupting the global trade of food, fertilizers and oil products, with prices of agricultural products reaching record highs. Eastern Africa, for instance, gets 90 per cent of its imported wheat from Russia and Ukraine (source: WFP), and the conflict has led to significant shortages. The Ukraine crisis has also diverted both the attention and resources from other crises.
While Ukraine is an extremely worrying crisis, affecting millions, we cannot afford to lose sight of other urgent crises around the world. Not least of which is the rapidly deteriorating food security situation in many parts of Africa. The clock is ticking and soon it may be too late to avert a widespread tragedy.
So the question that should concern us all is: what can we do, as a humanitarian collective, to avoid the tragic history of the early 1980s repeating itself?
We need urgent and massive action to scale up life-saving assistance to millions of people on the verge of collapsing, but also to decisively address the root causes of this crisis through longer term commitments.
The IFRC has an important and unique role to play. With our unparalleled community reach and expertise, our 100+ years of humanitarian experience, our ability to act both locally and globally, and our National Societies’ special status as auxiliaries to public authorities—we can turn this tide. But we need the resources to do so.
Our collective immediate priority is to muster life-saving support, within and outside our IFRC network, for the next six months—paying particular attention to the Horn of Africa, Central Sahel and other hot spots across the continent.
During this emergency phase, we will focus our support on the things we know from experience will make the most difference to affected people’s lives and livelihoods: food assistance, cash programmes and nutrition support.
At the same time, we will develop longer-term programming, together with interested National Societies, to address the root causes of food insecurity. We will build on our previous successes and work in support of governments’ plans and frameworks to restore the resilience of the most impoverished communities, including displaced populations.
Everything we do will be underpinned by solid data and meaningful community engagement to ensure that our response is evidence-based and tailor-made.
Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity. To alleviate human suffering, we must rise to this challenge through collective mobilization and action—both in the immediate and long-term.
We simply cannot afford to do too little, too late.
The IFRC network reached 4.8 million people with food assistance and non-food items, combining all humanitarian response operations (Emergency Appeals, DREFs and our COVID-19 response)
More than 20 African National Societies have been implementing food security-related projects as part of their regular programming
33 African National Societies have increased their capacity to deliver cash and voucher assistance
Click here to learn more about the IFRC’s work in food security and livelihoods.
You may also be interested in reading:
'To beat Africa’s hunger crises, start with long-term planning' -opinion piece in Devex by IFRC Regional Director for Africa, Mohammed Omer Mukhier-Abuzein
'Because of hunger, I am here' - photo story from the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine about Angolan refugees fleeing to Namibia due to the drought and resulting lack of food and water
And scroll down to learn more about our active Emergency Appeals for food insecurity in Africa and beyond.
Nairobi/Geneva, 6 May 2022—The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Secretary General Jagan Chapagain ends a three-day visit to Kenya, and he is calling for a massive scale-up of humanitarian and long-term assistance to communities affected by the growing hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa.
Speaking at the end of a visit to Marsabit, one of Kenya’s areas that has been hardest hit by the effects of drought, Mr Chapagain said:
“I have seen firsthand the level of suffering caused by drought in Marsabit. There are highly unacceptable levels of malnutrition, a global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate of 53.6 per cent in this particular ward - one of the highest in Africa. The situation is rapidly deteriorating. We need immediate humanitarian assistance to reach the most vulnerable. We also need long term solutions that address the impact of climate change including investment in resilient livelihoods.”
Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are facing a large-scale, climate-induced, and protracted humanitarian crisis with over 14 million people food insecure and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance including at least 5.5 million children facing acute malnutrition. 6.1 million people in Ethiopia and 4.1 million people in Somalia are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. In Kenya, 3.5 million people are acutely food insecure, with eastern and northern Kenya’s most arid and semi-arid lands experiencing critical drought conditions. This silent disaster has been overshadowed—and to a significant extent amplified—by the Ukraine crisis.
“It isn’t just food and water that people need here. In the background there are unseen issues such as sexual and gender-based violence, and the profound impacts on mental health. An example given was of women walking over 40 km to reach potable water – what happens on the journey is unthinkable,” added Mr Chapagain.
Dr Asha Mohammed, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society, who was also in Marsabit, said:
“The fact that people in Marsabit have lost over 70 per cent of their livestock, which is their main source of livelihood, means that it will be a long and slow path to recovery. Our teams are playing a central role in reducing the risks that families are facing. They have provided cash assistance, food assistance and improved water treatment practices, but the need to rehabilitate water systems remains urgent. We call all our partners and stakeholders to support our efforts.”
In response to the hunger and drought situation in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, the IFRC, the Kenya Red Cross, Ethiopia Red Cross and Somali Red Crescent are jointly appealing for 39 million Swiss francs. This funding will allow Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff to assist 1,560,000 people by scaling up their emergency and humanitarian assistance and recovery activities and tackling the root causes of food insecurity.
This strategy is aligned with the IFRC’s Pan African Zero Hunger Initiative that undertakes a holistic approach to food security, integrating specific interventions for rapid nutrition, food security and livelihood support for acute food-insecure households and communities with a long-term strategy working towards zero hunger and sustainable recovery.
“Food is a basic need of the population. We call upon every government in Africa to ensure they have the right policy framework to deal with drought,” said Mr Chapagain.
To request an interview with representatives from the IFRC or Kenya Red Cross, or for more information, please contact:
IFRC - Euloge Ishimwe, +254 731 688 613, [email protected]
Kenya Red Cross - Peter Abwao, +254 711 590911, [email protected]
IFRC – Benoit Carpentier, +41 79 213 2413, [email protected]
Nairobi/Geneva, 11 August 2021—The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned that Somalia is on the cusp of a humanitarian catastrophe. One in 4 people face high levels of acute food insecurity and more than 800,000 children under the age of five are at risk of acute malnutrition unless they receive treatment and food assistance immediately.
In addition to food insecurity, Somalia’s humanitarian situation continues to worsen due to multiple threats, including the outbreak of diseases such as Acute WateryDiarrhoea, measles, malaria and COVID-19.
Mohammed Mukhier, IFRC’s Regional Director for Africa said:
“Somalia is one of the riskiest places on earth to live right now. The country is a catalogue of catastrophes. Climate-related disasters, conflict and COVID-19 have coalesced into a major humanitarian crisis for millions of people. We can’t keep talking about this, we must reduce suffering now.”
Somalia is vulnerable to extreme climatic conditions, including repeated cycles of drought, seasonal floods, and tropical cyclones. The country has also been grappling with the impact of desert locusts. People regularly experience loss of livelihoods, food insecurity, malnutrition, and a scarcity of clean water. Seventy per cent of the country’s population lives in poverty, and 40 per cent is estimated to be living in extreme poverty.
The socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 are likely to lead to worsening nutrition outcomes among vulnerable groups—including poor households in urban areas and internally displaced people, many of whom live in crowded, unhygienic conditions and makeshifts shelters in the context of increasing food prices and reduced employment and income-earning opportunities.
The IFRC, Somali Red Crescent Society and other partners continue to provide support to vulnerable communities. However, the resources are unable to keep pace with needs.
Mukhier said: “We are doing our best to contribute to the reduction of hunger and disease. But, frankly speaking, available assistance remains a drop in the ocean, given the scale of suffering.”
To address some of the many unmet needs, the IFRC isseeking8.7 million Swiss francs to support the Somali Red Crescent Society to deliver humanitarian assistance to 563,808 people in Somaliland and Puntland over 18 months. This emergency appeal will enable the IFRC and the Somali Red Crescent Society to step up the response operation with a focus on livelihood and basic needs support, health and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, protection, gender and inclusion, as well as helping communities to prepare for other disasters.
On 15 May 2021, the IFRC released 451,800 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to help the Somali Red Crescent Society provide more than 120,000 people in Puntland and Somaliland with health and nutrition support. The Somali Red Crescent Society has unparalleled access to remote and hard-to-reach families, including those living on mountains or nomadic communities. Its integrated health care programme, with its network of static and mobile health clinics, is a key provider of health services.
In a country with many nomadic and displaced people, it is challenging to reach communities with consistent health care: mobile clinics are one of the primary strategies to fill those gaps. The Red Crescent mobile teams are uniquely positioned to reach patients in areas that lack vehicle or ambulance services.
For more information, or to request interviews, please contact:
In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 731 688 613, [email protected]
In Geneva: Ann Vaessen, +41 79 405 77 50, [email protected]
Latest photos, videos and B-rolls, on the situation in Somalia, available on this link https://www.ifrcnewsroom.org/
To follow the conversation on social media, use this hashtag: #HungerAndDiseaseReduction
The National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA) has today announced the National Societies to receive investment from the fund in 2020, with the Steering Committee approving Accelerator funding to:
The Colombian Red Cross Society
The Georgia Red Cross Society
The Mexican Red Cross Society
The Somali Red Crescent Society
The Co-chairs of the NSIA Steering Committee, Xavier Castellanos, Under-Secretary General for National Society Development and Operations Coordination at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Katrin Wiegmann, Deputy Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said:
“We are pleased to announce this second group of National Societies to receive support from the NSIA. We have selected National Societies responding to ongoing crises in some of the world’s major humanitarian emergencies, such as Somalia and South Sudan, as well as Georgia Red Cross Society pursuing an entrepreneurial response to the unprecedented global pandemic that we continue to face.
These investments build on those made in 2019, and we are already seeing how such funding can have a catalytic effect, such as in supporting the Lebanese Red Cross’ efforts to mobilize support in response to the double impacts of Covid-19 and the recent Beirut port explosion
As we begin to see the value of the NSIA on the ground, there continues to also be demand from National Societies thinking strategically about their development during unprecedented uncertainty. We call on our partners in the Movement and beyond to join us in expanding this important mechanism for supporting strong and principled local humanitarian action.”
The IFRC and the ICRC jointly manage the NSIA to provide substantial, multi-year development support to National Societies, especially those in contexts with heightened humanitarian needs. The NSIA helps strengthen the organisational and operational development and capacity of National Societies so they can increase their impact.
To respond to the varied development needs of National Societies, the NSIA can award up to one million Swiss francs of Accelerator funding to any one National Society over a five-year period. In addition, Bridge grants of up to 50,000 Swiss francs over 12 months can help National Societies prepare the ground for future investment from the NSIA or elsewhere.
To date, NSIA has been supported by generous contributions from the governments of Switzerland, The United States, and Canada.
Second Round of NSIA Funding
This second call for proposals received 49 applications from National Societies across all regions, with a range of contextual challenges and organizational development needs. The application process was adapted to take account of exposure to Covid-19 related risks and again involved an independent and objective process of consultation and review against the criteria, working with colleagues from the IFRC and the ICRC at the national and regional level, as well as National Societies themselves.
The selected applicants will undergo further due diligence steps, which in the case of Accelerator investments will include the Federation’s Working With Project Partners approach, as well as the meeting of certain conditions linked to their specific applications, such as securing sufficient co-funding.
Selected National Societies
The Colombian Red Cross Society will receive funding to build on the resource mobilsation work conducted under their ongoing Bridge Award, including individual giving and digital fundraising.
The Georgia Red Cross Society will receive funds to support the commercial production of sanitizer products at the national level. This funding is conditional on securing loan-based co-finance.
The Mexican Red Cross Society will receive funds to invest in systems for Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting, as well as learning, as part of their wider NSD strategy.
The Somali Red Crescent Society will receive funds for the redevelopment and commercialisation of their national HQ, as part of a wider NSD strategy, and contingent on co-funding.
The Lesotho Red Cross will receive funds for the development of a Resource Mobilsation strategy and investment plan exploring national level income generating activities
The South Sudan Red Cross will receive funds for the initial investment in IT capacities at HQ and branch level, to support remote management, and focused on longer term branch development efforts.
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent will receive funds to roll out a new approach to branch development.