Somalia: Tackling malnutrition amid the drought
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.
| Press release
Ukraine: IFRC warns of psychological wounds adding cruel layer of pain one year on
Geneva / Budapest / Kyiv 23 February 2023 -The psychological wounds of the international armed conflict in Ukraine are adding another cruel layer of pain to people already struggling to cope with shelter, hunger, and livelihoods needs, warns the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
As the effects of the last year continue to impact families, the IFRC network is running the biggest humanitarian response in its history. With a CHF 1.6 billion appeal spanning 58 countries, the IFRC network has reached more than two million people with medical care, mental health support and shelter; and so far has distributed more than CHF 87 million in cash assistance to bring choice and dignity to families who have lost everything. A total of 42 IFRC member National Societies are engaged in activities supporting people from Ukraine, domestically.
IFRC Secretary General, Jagan Chapagain, said:
“This grueling year has devastated the lives of millions of people and that brings with it psychological harm as significant as physical injury. We are preparing to expand our mental health interventions alongside cash, shelter, medical care and urgent assistance to help people manage the harsh winter with power cuts and water shortages.”
Red Cross and Red Crescent teams are working everywhere—from bomb shelters in Bakhmut to refugees’ new homes across borders—and have provided more than a million people with psychosocial support since February 2022. As time marches on, more must be done to address mental health.
“Trauma knows no borders: those in Ukraine and those who have fled are equally in need of comfort, stability, and a sense of normalcy,” remarked Mr. Chapagain.
The Ukrainian Red Cross has provided psychosocial support to hundreds of thousands of people since the start of the conflict’s escalation. An additional 34 IFRC member National Societies are delivering specialist help to hundreds of thousands who have sought safety in other countries.
Ukrainian Red Cross Director General, Maksym Dotsenko, said:
“They have lost loved ones, homes, jobs, everything—this is devastating enough. People’s lives are in limbo and this anguish is eating them up inside, compounding the mental health crisis even further.
“Helping families find coping mechanisms, treatment and support is crucial for us. We are training people on how to respond to mental health emergencies and this training is happening in bomb shelters and basements.”
In neighbouring countries, IFRC member National Societies are receiving a growing number of pleas for mental health help via their community feedback systems.
“We are a long way away from recovery for people from Ukraine, but ensuring support for mental health, alongside cash support, protection and other basic services is a way we can contribute to that eventual recovery,” said Mr. Chapagain.
Over the past year, the IFRC network has mobilized more than 124,000 volunteers to respond to urgent needs of people affected by this international armed conflict.
For more information, please contact:
In Kyiv: Nichola Jones, +44 7715 459956
In Budapest: Corrie Butler, +36 70 430 6506
In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803
A/V materials available to media on the IFRC Newsroom.
Note to editors:
In a regional initiative to meet the massive need for mental health support, National Red Cross Societies in Ukraine and 24 countries across the EU/EEA have joined forces to provide mental health and psychosocial support services to more than 590,000 people over the course of three years. Target audiences include displaced people in Ukraine and impacted EU countries, caregivers, children, older persons, people with disabilities, host communities, as well as Red Cross volunteers and staff. Funded by the European Union and with technical assistance from the IFRC and the IFRC Psychosocial Centre, the EU4Health project connects vulnerable people with mental health professionals and volunteers from the 25 National Societies.
IFRC Secretary General on the year ahead: "Hope in the midst of hopelessness"
It’s easy to feel a sense of hopelessness these days – climate crises, people on the verge of starvation in parts of Africa, multiple wars, protracted conflicts, people having to leave their homes out of desperation, shameful cases of exclusion in many parts of the world, rising mental health crises, people not having basic access to water and sanitation. This list can go on and on.
While these crises are affecting everyone, the marginalized, excluded, and last mile communities are bearing the brunt of these crises disproportionately.
Some 43 years ago, I signed up to be a young volunteer of the Nepal Red Cross. I joined not knowing how my life would unfold and where this would lead. I didn’t fully understand then, but I do now – the mission and mandate of our IFRC network, and the fundamental principles that guide our work with a very simple vision--to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Three years ago, we didn’t know the scale of impact of a global pandemic, international armed conflict in the middle of Europe and all other global crises we have been responding to.
In this context, let me share some of my reflections on the current state of play.
Reflection on the IFRC’s mandate and relevance
As the world grapples with “polycrisis”, our mandate becomes as relevant as ever, if not more.
The IFRC is at the forefront of humanitarian efforts in times of disaster, crises, and other emergencies. By providing immediate assistance and long-term sustainable development programmes, the IFRC network puts people at the centre of vital, life-saving assistance.
We work to strengthen the resilience of communities in vulnerable settings, ensuring they are better prepared for and better able to cope with our changing world. In a time of great global disparities in terms of access to services, we bridge the gap.
The role of truly local organizations like our member National Societies is critical to reach the most disadvantaged sections of societies. Localization is fundamental as crises grow; but resources do not keep pace with them. Business as usual is not going to work. True empowerment of community organizations and decolonization of aid will be critical in 2023 and beyond.
Reflection on our fundamental principles, particularly the principle of neutrality
The threat to our principles, particularly the principle of neutrality, lies in the fact that the international armed conflict in Ukraine has taken on a much-heightened political dimension. This has placed great pressure on the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.
We must maintain a neutral stance and perform impartial aid operations, to ensure our principle of neutrality is observed. While we remain sensitive to the challenges emerging out of the conflict and we will be doing everything in our capacity to deliver on our mandate, it is essential that our fundamental principles remain the bedrock of our actions. Failing to do so will irreparably damage the notion of neutral, independent humanitarian action.
Amid rapid changes in the global humanitarian landscape, one thing remains constant – that’s our fundamental principles. Our values and principles transcend all the divisions that exist in the world.
Reflection on current trends
We closely monitor the global trends that impact our work. Climate and Environmental crises have been at the forefront. Social issues like the erosion of trust, migration and displacement, inequality, global health and food crises are directly linked to our mandate. Economic issues like the cost-of-living crisis and energy crises will impact our work. Technological issues, like the opportunity created by digitalization as well as the risks arising from the digital divide and those linked to humanitarian data security, will have to be considered. We must also be mindful of the global political landscape and current lack of global political leadership able to deal with multiple crises.
The international armed conflict in Ukraine will significantly impact the geopolitical landscape and will exacerbate the humanitarian situation across the globe. We must be humble enough to acknowledge that there is no humanitarian solution to most of these crises. There must be a political solution and we must support and advocate for the same.
Reflection on our ambitions
Our ambitions are simple as we deal with these trends.
We will continue to be bold in our support to our membership both on humanitarian action and in building resilience.
We will work harder to build a trustful relationship with our membership and governance structure.
We will invest more in National Society transformations leveraging the power of youth and volunteers. Advancing gender and inclusion will require consistent push.
We must do more to be a learning organization that continuously evolves. Within the family, we will continue to build mutually respectful movement cooperation.
We will expand our humanitarian diplomacy efforts and further strengthen our highly professional partnership with all partners. Further building on the new operating model and new resourcing architecture, we will develop more inclusive IFRC wide approaches.
We will accelerate our digitalization journey.
We will continue to strengthen agility and accountability. Respectful workplace, issues of fraud and corruption, sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, racism, and discrimination will be dealt with proactively and decisively.
The world is full of daunting challenges. But it is also full of people and organizations committed to confront them and work together to bring about positive change. We are one of those organizations.
We will lead from the front, working with our membership and their volunteers. We will be bold in our actions, but calm and composed in our approaches.
There will of course be challenges along the way, but we will always move forward with integrity. We will have to be at our best when the challenges are the greatest. And we will have to always bring hope amid hopelessness.
| Press release
Somalia: Likelihood of famine will increase by an estimated 25 per cent if displaced people don’t get the help they need
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]
Kenya hunger crisis: Voices from the drought
Kenya is one of many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa currently experiencing one of the most alarming food crises in decades.
Severe drought, due to the failure of four consecutive rainy seasons, means millions of people in the country are facing hunger and thirst.
But drought isn't the only problem. High inflation, climate-related disasters, conflicts and displacement are just a handful of the other local and global factors at play that are putting people's lives across the country at serious risk.
And as a result of the hunger crisis, we're also seeing higher rates of child marriage, increased school drop outs and escalating conflicts as people try to cope and access precious resources.
The Kenya Red Cross Society, supported by the IFRC, has been helping affected communities to protect their lives and livelihoods through this crisis. Their local volunteers are distributing food, rehabilitating water sources, providing cash transfers and supporting people's nutrition—reaching more than 100,000 households so far.
In this article, hear from some of the people we've supported as they talk about how this historical drought is affecting their and their families' lives.
Scolastica Esekon, Aukot Village, Ngaremara, Isiolo
“I have been blessed with eight children. Now that it is dry and the cattle have left to find pasture elsewhere, we may be without food all afternoon and evening. Livestock has died and at the same time prices have risen. I might get 200 or 500 shillings a day for manual work, but that’s enough for one meal, and we are hungry again in the evening.
Life is hard for women. The young people have gone with the animals to look for grass. It may take several days, and then you hear that cattle raiders have killed the men. And some even commit suicide. The water has helped a lot, and we can thank God that he has brought us helpers who have dug wells.
When I come back from work in the night, I can get water from nearby. Before, I had to walk several hours away, and I could still come home without water, because the elephants could drive us away. Now that’s not a problem.”
Ebenyo Muya, Aukot Village, Ngaremara, Isiolo
“The drought has come over us all. We receive aid, but it does not come often and does not last long. We are really grateful for the water project that the Kenya Red Cross has given us. We would also need piping for irrigation, so that we could start farming.
Our biggest problem is the drought. The trees are dry and the animals are gone. Without the Red Cross water, we would really be in trouble. The children are weak, and we have nothing to give them. Some people have livestock left, but they cannot sell them, because the animals are too thin.
My cattle of 48 cows was stolen a couple of years ago. The drought has made conflicts worse. I believe that agriculture could be a good option for us. If the children can go to school, they will be able to change the future.”
Farhiya Abdi Ali, Abakaile location, Garissa
“In the past, life was normal and business was good. We got milk and meat from the animals. Now there is no milk. and the animals are too thin for slaughter.
My shop has not been doing well, because people have no money to buy goods. I have been told by the wholesale markets that I cannot get anything. But when the Red Cross came and gave people cash assistance, I got money from people and I could buy things in the store again.
I got a grant myself and used some to buy things for the shop and used some money to pay my children’s school fees, they are in high school. Life is better now and people are relieved.”
Abdi Buke Tinisa, Sericho Location, Isiolo
“The Red Cross has dug a well for us, and the cows are allowed to drink, even though there is no pasture here. The drought has been really bad. The animals used to eat and return home early in the evening because they had had enough. Now the animals are looking for food and stay up all night looking for grass. Some stay here near the water and are killed by wild animals at night.
This drought has brought with it a lot of fear. I used to have 50 cows, but only 12 are still alive. I don’t think they will survive until the next rains either, they are in poor condition.
The children have usually gone to school, but now the problem is school fees. We don’t always have enough money to buy food for the children, how could we have money for school fees?”
Click here to learn more about the hunger crisis in Africa and to donate to our Emergency Appeal.
IFRC President addresses High-Level conference on food security and nutrition at the African Union
Excellencies, Honorable Ministers, Distinguished Delegates, Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders and friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor and pleasure for me to be here today, and together with all of you to open this important event on the food security crises that we are facing in Africa.
This conference is a unique platform that we, co-conveners, provide to leverage support from the political, humanitarian, and development actors, as well as the international financial institutions.
We are particularly honored by the close cooperation of more than a decade with the African Union Commission. Through you, Your Excellency Commissioner Sacko, I commend the leadership of the African Union and pledge our continued commitment as Federation to strengthen our partnership.
Yet, while we address the complexity of food security and nutrition, we must equally not forget hearing from those at the frontline of risk and in most marginalized and hard-to-reach communities.
I represent the International Federation of the Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies—the world’s largest humanitarian network composed of 192 National Societies constituting 14 million volunteers worldwide—prepared, committed, and ready to respond to disasters and crises at local, national, and regional scale.
Our network brings voices from the frontlines of disasters and solutions communities offer. We, the IFRC, champion localization and national ownership in practice on the ground as a necessity across the world.
Empowering local actors, such as our Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers, makes us able to save lives and reach more vulnerable people.
Our volunteers are part of the local communities, they know the needs and how to better address them.
Bringing humanitarian assistance to families who are constantly on the move is one of the greatest challenges aid workers face.
For example, our Red Crescent teams in Somalia work closely with nomadic communities and therefore there isnever a question about where to deliver aid. These volunteers come from the communities they serve, and they know how to do it better than anyone else.
As a global network we are deeply concerned by the unfolding food insecurity crisis in Africa, where 800 million people are at threat across the continent and 146 million are in acute need of food.
Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity. The situation is expected to deteriorate into 2023, and we must all be worried, but most importantly mobilise ourselves to prevent any catastrophes.
There is no more time to waste! Words and political commitment must be translated in urgent actions. We are also mindful that this crisis is not an African Crisis but a global crisis, triggered by three global factors: climate change, the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19 pandemic and worldwide impact on commodities and prices of the international armed conflict in Ukraine.
African National Societies, with the support of the IFRC, have not waited for this situation to deteriorate to act.
In 2021, 4.8 million people were supported with cash and food assistance. As the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement we are also aware that we need to scale up our response.
The IFRC has launched a regional emergency appeal for 200 million CHF that covers 23 affected countries and is focused on reaching 7.6 million people in 14 priority countries.
To break the vicious circle of this food crisis, the IFRC will not only invest in crisis response but will work together with the African Union Commission, and other key partners, on advocating for scaling-up efforts to meet the humanitarian imperative across the continent and address the urgent necessity to also invest in addressing the longer-term needs.
We will act in line with AU Agenda 2063, the AU member states response plans, across the continent and the strategic plans of Regional Economic Communities on food security.
For us, this a global crisis. We are mobilizing all our 192 members to support actions led by the African National Societies. Here today, we have 15 African National Society leaders, plus representation from Red Cross Red Crescents partners from other continents.
We are fully engaged, as one team, to ensure that both emergency response and longer-term solutions to the food crisis are in full alignment with government plans and priorities.
As auxiliary to public authorities, our African National Societies are engaged in mobilizing trained volunteers and capabilities and leverage their unique access to and acceptance by affected or at-risk communities. They also contribute to policy frameworks, such as the global zero hunger commitments (SDG1 and SDG2) and the implementation of Paris Agreement ensuring community-centred response for lasting impact.
This crisis can not be handled by one agency or organisation alone, not in the short term nor in the long run. Strong partnerships, including with communities themselves, are the foundation for succeeding in our common goal of achieving Zero Hunger - a big ambition for all of us to deliver against the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa Agenda 2063.
Collectively, we are also ready to support African-owned and -led longer term solutions to food insecurity challenges. It is in that spirit that we launched our IFRC Pan-African Zero Hunger Initiative, a partnership platform, to address root-causes and to strengthen community resilience through longer term programming. The aim of this initiative is to reach 25% of the most vulnerable people in Africa by 2030 through local, national, regional, and international partnerships.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.
Hunger is a very undignified crisis.
Hunger is not just a food crisis.
It leads to health crisis. And livestock crisis.
It means breaking up neighborhoods and disrupting local communities.
It means population movement.
An emergency response alone will not end these hunger crises.
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 investment in 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.
We, the IFRC, stand ready to do our part with governments and partners. We believe that this high-level event can be a key moment to strengthen our cooperation and save more lives.
As we all know, responding late will mean immense suffering for millions and millions of people. And to us this is unacceptable!
| Press release
Water-borne diseases and food insecurity threaten Pakistan as Red Cross ramps up efforts
Islamabad / Kuala Lumpur, 7 October 2022 – As widespread flash floods in Pakistan continue to trigger waves of displacement, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Pakistan Red Crescent are scaling up their humanitarian assistance.
In a revised emergency appeal, the IFRC is asking for CHF 55 million to assist three times more people than initially targeted. The increased ask was prompted by the worsening situation, where a surge of flood-borne diseases and food inaccessibility is on the rise. In the areas where floods are receding, health and hygiene concerns, such as cholera, dengue and malaria, pose severe threats to people’s wellbeing.
Pakistan has experienced an unusual amount of rainfall, three times higher than the last three decades, which affected 33 million people, killing 1,700 others and displacing nearly 8 million from their homes. Hundreds of staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly since the onset of this disaster to assist those in need.
A new study from the World Weather Attribution—a group of international scientists including those from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre—found climate change likely intensified the rainfall that left huge swathes of Pakistan underwater and turned lives upside down.
More than two months into the floods, the IFRC and Pakistan Red Crescent have reached around 270,000 people in the most affected areas—delivering critical life-saving assistance including tents, food, clean water and medical support. The revised appeal will strengthen the ongoing response, with a focus on food, water, medical care, and shelter assistance—all delivered by volunteers who are from the very communities they serve.
The Chairman of Pakistan Red Crescent, Sardar Shahid Ahmed Laghari, who has been visiting affected areas with emergency response teams over the past weeks says:
“The needs remain massive and keep on growing, and they are different for men, women, boys and girls. Our staff and volunteers are listening to and working with these different groups to raise awareness and deliver our interventions. It’s critical that families’ needs are met or these tragic floods will impact them in the long-term—just as people are suffering from the ongoing inflation and economic crisis."
Through the strength of its staff and volunteers, the Pakistan Red Crescent has managed to access hard-to-reach communities in dire need of assistance.
The IFRC, and its partners such as German Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross and Turkish Red Crescent, have been collaborating with the government and humanitarian groups to cater to the most vulnerable people, with a special focus on displaced families, women, and children.
Peter Ophoff, IFRC’s Head of Delegation in Pakistan, remarks:
“This revised appeal will enable us to help the most vulnerable get back on their feet, especially those who live in the hard-to-reach areas. Before the lingering effects of this disaster turns into a catastrophe, the IFRC is acting now to scale up preventative public health interventions, including improving access to sanitation and increasing hygiene awareness around the emerging health crisis. Parallel interventions will also be made on shelter, livelihoods and cash assistance.”
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
In Kuala Lumpur:
Afrhill Rances, +60 19 271 3641
Sher Zaman, +92 51 9250404-6,
Jenelle Eli, +1 202-603-6803,
AV materials for use by the media are available here:
Africa: Hunger crisis
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.
| Press release
Crisis fatigue not an option as global hunger crisis deepens, the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement warns
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
Confronting the environmental causes of Africa’s food crisis
This blog was originally posted on the WWF website here.
Africa is facing its worst food crisis in 40 years. Nearly 114 million people across sub-Saharan Africa – a figure approaching half the entire population of the United States – face severe food insecurity. In Eastern Africa, 50 million people are at risk. Across the Sahel, the number of people needing emergency food assistance has quadrupled to 30 million in the past seven years.
The causes of this current crisis are manifold. Conflict and the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have played their part. But more significantly, the continent has been wracked by prolonged drought, flooding and swarms of desert locusts – natural hazards, exacerbated by man-made climate change and the degradation of nature.
It is the most vulnerable who are bearing the brunt of the current hunger crisis. Men and women are losing their livelihoods as crops fail, animals starve or die of thirst, and soil is washed away. Children go hungry, and their education is abandoned. Women eat less, and drought means dietary requirements, especially for young girls, pregnant and lactating women, and menstrual hygiene are relegated.
There is an urgent need for life-saving humanitarian assistance in all countries in Africa. Organizations such as Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are stepping up their actions, with the IFRC, governments and partners, to provide this urgent support. But they recognize, as does WWF, the need to also build resilience to shocks and to address the root causes of food insecurity.
A changing climate
Many underlying causes can be found in the twin environmental crises of climate and nature loss, which are compounded with the crises caused by factors including poverty and conflict. The rising levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere – primarily from the rich and middle-income countries of the global North – are driving temperature rises that are disrupting weather and climate patterns and degrading natural ecosystems.
Climate change is making extreme weather events worse, more frequent and more trans-boundary. It is changing patterns of precipitation, undermining water and food security. It is impacting human health, as well as putting additional stress on nature and biodiversity, exacerbating pressures from land-use change, over-exploitation, pollution and invasive species.
Presently, around 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from food systems. Not only are food choices in rich, urban areas leading to a health crisis of obesity and non-communicable disease, but the over-consumption of unsustainably produced foods, and inefficient and wasteful behaviours across all value chains, are directly contributing to food insecurity in Africa.
This underscores the urgent imperative for rich countries to reduce emissions as quickly as possible. Even if all other sectors linearly decarbonise by 2050, business as usual food systems will account for nearly the whole carbon budget of a 2 degree future.
While around 89 countries have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of this century (which would still not deliver the emissions cuts needed to limit warming to 1.5°C), few have yet developed the suite of policies and regulations that will put them on a net-zero trajectory.
Many vulnerable communities in Africa need to be supported in the face of climate shocks by strengthening their capacity to respond, reducing their risk exposure and building their resilience.
There is much that can and should be done to directly help vulnerable communities and ecosystems in Africa today and in the decades to come.
Urgent investment must be made to help vulnerable communities adapt to the current impacts of climate change, and to become more resilient to climate shocks yet to come. Critically, this involves building a shared understanding, securing financing and enacting favourable policies so that governments, NGOs and the private sector in Africa can recognise the threats posed by the impacts of climate change and implement the urgent solutions needed to help local people adapt.
The link between climate and nature
Significant solutions also exist that use nature to both mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and to help communities to adapt and become more climate resilient.
The world’s land, oceans and freshwater systems already absorb and store half of the emissions humankind produces each year: protecting, restoring and enhancing ecosystems will be critical to addressing climate change. Food systems can also be a major part of the solution to the nature and climate crises.
Investment in nature-based solutions – such as adopting agroecological food production practices, forest conservation, protecting wetlands or enhancing coastal ecosystems – can help store emissions, protect communities from extreme weather events, and provide food, jobs and habitats. Such solutions, if high quality, well-designed and properly funded, can help build climate resilience.
But as well as individual projects, climate impacts and vulnerabilities, and the protection of nature, must be integrated into public- and private-sector decision-making at every level across the continent. The extent of the challenge posed by climate and nature loss means that they need to be considered across all levels of decision-making and by economic actors large and small.
The current food crisis faced by millions across Africa demands urgent humanitarian aid. But, without a much more comprehensive and long-term, locally-led, people-centred response to climate change and biodiversity loss, humanitarian resources will be stretched beyond breaking point.
The IFRC is partnering withWWF, the world's largest environmental conservation organization, to work with nature and protect people from the climate crisis. Click here to learn more about our partnership.
Nigeria hunger crisis: Creative ways to improve nutrition
Many countries in Africa are facing the worst food crisis in decades.
The consequences are greatest for women and children, with many mothers currently fighting to protect their kids from malnutrition.
In Nigeria, one of the IFRC’s 12 priority countries in our hunger crisis response, the Nigerian Red Cross and IFRC are using creative ways to help parents keep their children healthy and fed. Let's take a look at three of them.
Mothers’ clubs are safe spaces for women to come together and support one another through the successes and struggles of motherhood. The idea started in Ghana in the 1970s and has since spread all around the world. These days there’s a growing emphasis on involving men and supporting their equally vital role in raising children.
Nigerian Red Cross volunteers have set up 140 of these Mothers' Clubs in 7 north-western states of Nigeria, allowing parents to meet and receive information on nutrition, breastfeeding, and proper infant care. They’re a way of providing health education to parents on how to best look after their newborns, how to breastfeed properly, and how to improve hygiene and care—all in a friendly and supportive environment. When her child became affected by oedema, a serious manifestation of the symptoms of malnutrition, Amina, a member of one of the Mothers’ Clubs, turned to the Nigerian Red Cross for help:
"My child had been sick for some time, and I didn't know it was serious, or even that he was malnourished, until they [Red Cross volunteers] came to my house to screen him. Today, thanks to the awareness-raising activities and my membership of the clubs, I can take better care of my children and advise the women in my community on good practices”.
Cash and voucher assistance
Many households in Nasarawa State are facing severe food shortages due to the drought that is ravaging the region. Sadiya, a mother of one who is struggling to feed herself and her son, says,
"I cannot eat or prepare food for my son on a regular basis because the land hardly produces anything."
Similarly, another woman in Niger State highlights how the rising cost of living, especially rising food prices, prevents her from providing a good dinner for her family:
"My child has not been breastfed properly because there are not enough nutritious meals available in the market for me. And even when they are available, they are unaffordable."
To address this, the IFRC is currently providing vouchers to breastfeeding mothers through its Cash Transfer programme. "I was one of the mothers supported by the Red Cross Society. I received 10,000 naira, which enabled me to buy food for my family." she adds.
The cash transfer programme is designed to support low-income families to cope with the pressures of inflation so that they can provide for the multiple needs of the household and therefore the children.
Giving cash to the people we support is an effective, efficient and transparent way of providing humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable. It ensures that people have the freedom, dignity and independence to decide on their own recovery.
Home visits to fill gaps in health services
Several health centres are understaffed, and some have been closed due to increasing insecurity, making it difficult for malnourished children to access even basic health care.
The women and members of the mothers' clubs conduct home visits and screen malnourished children by measuring the circumference of their arms. Any child suffering from malnutrition is then registered on a referral card, designed by the Nigerian Red Cross, and referred to a health centre for further treatment. These home visits are minimizing the burden on stretched health services and making sure that children are being regularly screened and supported when they need it.
In response to the food crisis in the north-east and north-west of Nigeria, the IFRC launched an emergency appeal for over CHF 4,000,000 to help people cope.
Click here to donate today to support this life-saving work.
| Press release
Horn of Africa hunger crisis: Addressing needs of nomadic communities is crucial to saving lives
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]
Niger: Urgent action needed as hunger grips communities
It is early in the morning on a hot day of July 2022. Long queues of people are seen in the courtyard of the primary school of Gorou Kirey, in a remote suburb of Niamey, the capital of Niger. The site is hosting a Niger Red Cross cash distribution operation for communities affected by the hunger crisis in the country. Boubacar Alzouma, a 76-year-old farmer, was among the first people to arrive.
“I was not going to miss this, as there was nothing to prepare at home today,” says Boubacar, leaning on his walking stick for support. “It's embarrassing to say this, but there are days when we have nothing to eat at home,” he continues.
Last year’s poor harvests due to erratic rainfall have brought Boubacar’s family to the brink of starvation. He was only able to harvest two bags of food from his 2-hectare field of millet, sorghum and cowpeas—insufficient to feed his 21 children. To cope with the hunger situation, Boubacar had made the difficult decision to sell all his livestock.
“Our biggest hope is to have good rainfall this year. Otherwise, it will be a disaster again,” he says.
After receiving cash from the Niger Red Cross, Boubacar rushed to buy food. Had it not been for this assistance, his family would have gone to bed hungry.
The hunger crisis has affected 4.4 million people in Niger and is a result of the combined effects of climate shocks and insecurity. Boubacar’s story speaks for many.
To help people cope, the Niger Red Cross has provided nearly 6,000 affected households across the country with cash assistance since May, supported by the IFRC and other partners from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Assistance also includes food parcels in some areas and livestock feed to help farming families protect their livelihoods.
The Niger Red Cross is also setting up community nutrition centres to screen and refer malnourished children to health centres. But more needs to be done to prevent the situation from worsening.
“A rapid and strengthened response is needed to save lives, as the early lean season has pushed many families to the breaking point,” says Thierry Balloy, Head of IFRC Cluster Delegation in Niger.
The scale of the hunger crisis prompted the IFRC to launch an emergency appeal for five million Swiss francs in May to support the Niger Red Cross in assisting 283,000 people (40,547 families). Money raised will be used to provide cash, nutrition and livelihoods support to the most vulnerable people, as well as long term resilience-building solutions. But as of July 2022, the appeal is only 30% funded.
Boubacar’s future, and the futures of many other farmers like him in Niger, remains uncertain. But despite the challenges he and his family face, he remains hopeful:
“If I receive a second grant and the next harvests are good, I will buy cattle. This will help us cope with the next difficult lean season,” says Boubacar.
| Press release
Yemen: As global food insecurity crisis escalates, hope shrinks for millions already suffering from extreme hunger
Beirut / Sanaa / Aden, 8 July 2022 – As we face an unprecedented global hunger crisis, concerns for the 16.2 million people who have long been food insecure in Yemen are at an all-time high. While the crisis in Yemen is one of the most dire, brought on by protracted conflict, droughts, and floods intensified by the climate crisis, COVID-19, and other diseases, it has failed to attract adequate support from donors for years. Now it risks slipping further into oblivion.
IFRC Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, made a field visit to Sanaa, Aden, Amran, and Lahj this week, where he witnessed first-hand the immense unmet needs for nutritional supplements and medicine, and the many cases of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
“I’m extremely heartbroken at the devastating level of hunger and severe malnutrition of babies, children, and women in Yemen,” he said. “As I looked in the eyes of those suffering mothers and children, I was at a loss for words This is plain wrong and unnecessary suffering for innocent civilians.”
There are already massive gaps in funding the humanitarian response for the 20.7 million people in need of assistance in Yemen, including clean water and healthcare as well as food and nutrition. Now, as the conflict in Ukraine pushes up the prices of food, fertilizer and fuel, the situation is likely to worsen. Meanwhile, the rapidly increasing needs of people around the world will also spread humanitarian resources even thinner.
Currently, the IFRC delegation in Yemen provides financial, material, and technical support to the Yemen Red Crescent (YRCS) in Disaster Preparedness and Management, Water Sanitation and Hygiene, Health, and National Society Development.
Dr. Elsharkawi met with YRCS leadership and volunteers as well as Yemeni officials around Sanaa, Aden, and Lahj to discuss the humanitarian response gaps as well as the programmes supported by the IFRC.
He saluted the extraordinary efforts of the thousands of dedicated staff and volunteers of the Yemen Red Crescent:
“These men and women are working tirelessly on the front lines to support the people in need and to preserve their dignity despite the complex situation. But our moral responsibility demands more urgent action to save lives now. The international community and donors must immediately scale up support to address the widespread hunger and malnutrition.”
Key figures on Yemen for editors: (Based on the 2022 HNO analysis)
23.4 million people are estimated to need humanitarian assistance in 2022,12.9 million of whom were estimated to be in acute need.
19 million people are food insecure.
17.8 million people lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation services
An estimated 21.9 million people lack access to basic healthcare.
An estimated 4.3 million people have fled their homes since the start of the conflict, including approximately 3.3 million people who remain displaced, and 1 million returnees.
To schedule an interview or for further information:
In Beirut, IFRC-MENA: Mey Al Sayegh, +961 03229352, [email protected]
In Yemen -YRCS: Nesreen Ahmed, +967 775322644, [email protected]
“Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity”: Tackling food insecurity in Africa and beyond
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.
| Press release
Afghanistan: Hunger and poverty surge as drought persists
Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva 17 June – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for increased global support to stem spiralling hunger in Afghanistan as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises threatens millions.
Intense summer heat and a weak spring rainy season have effectively spelled doom for a meaningful harvest in the country.
Amidst mounting poverty, 70 percent of households are unable to meet basic food and non-food needs, with particularly devastating effects for homes headed by widows, the elderly, people with disabilities, and children. An estimated 3 million children are at risk of malnutrition and susceptible to diseases such as acute watery diarrhoea and measles due to weakened immunity.
Thousands of people have resorted to begging in the streets, with prices of essential items soaring in the face of declining remittances, a crumbling economy and rising poverty.
Dr Mohammad Nabi Burhan, Secretary General of Afghan Red Crescent, said: “This is one of the worst humanitarian crises I have seen in Afghanistan, in more than 30 years as a humanitarian aid worker. It is horrifying to see the extent of hunger and resurgence of poverty that we have fought so hard to eradicate.
“It is particularly worrying for Afghans in rural and remote areas, where some of the country’s poorest communities face widespread destitution and very high levels of malnutrition after their crops failed or livestock perished.
“A lack of food should not be a cause of death in Afghanistan. There needs to be a concerted international effort to continue critical humanitarian assistance across the country so that lives can be saved.”
Afghan Red Crescent is ramping up its response operation using available funds, giving immediate priority to food and cash distributions as well as providing health services via more than 140 health facilities across Afghanistan. However, the latest reports show much more assistance will be needed.
Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said:
“The increasing economic hardship is a bitter blow for families in Afghanistan who are trying to cope with one of the worst droughts and food crises they have ever faced, leaving children malnourished and far more vulnerable to preventable disease.
“As well as providing critical relief to people struggling in the face of severe drought and hunger, livelihood interventions should be supported to enable people to restore means of earning an income.
“There is also a need for investment in local institutions that deliver vital services in the cities as well as remote areas. Locally staffed, well-functioning institutions are proven to help the most vulnerable, including children, women, and the elderly in every corner of Afghanistan.”
As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for 80 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief, health services and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Asia Pacific Office:
Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089,
| Press release
Ukraine conflict intensifies existing humanitarian crises in the MENA region, warns the IFRC
16 June 2022, Beirut -The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continues to face multiple and complex crises from conflicts to climate change and displacement. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) today issued a rapid assessment report focusing on the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on the humanitarian situation in the MENA region.
The findings of the assessment confirmed that the conflict intensifies the impact of pre-existing crises and trends and increases the vulnerability of most countries.
Rania Ahmed, Deputy Regional Director of IFRC MENA said: “The global economic and security impact of the conflict in Ukraine could be the proverbial last straw that breaks the camel’s back, pushing already fragile countries in the MENA region over the tipping point.”
The assessment’s main findings show that food security and livelihoods are the two most affected sectors. Currently, there are over 55 million people across the region who need humanitarian assistance.Data show that the number could increase by 25% over the next six months because of the global food price index increase that has hit a record high. Twelve countries from the MENA region have experienced a dramatic increase in the price of basic food items. In Lebanon, prices have increased by 75-100%. In Iran and Yemen prices went up by 50-75%. Currently, five million people are facing food insecurity in the region. An estimated 1.9 million could slide into hunger.
MENA countries source up to 85% of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia. The agriculture industry in the region has already been severely affected by a combination of disrupted supply chains, water scarcity, and increasing temperatures.
With donors’ attention turned towards the Ukraine crisis, there is a risk that the humanitarian funding for MENA countries might drop. Lack of access to donor funding will only amplify the existing humanitarian crisis in several MENA countries. For the millions of Palestinians, Lebanese, Yemenis, Syrians, and others who live in countries experiencing conflict, catastrophic economic meltdowns, and increasing humanitarian needs, this would be equivalent to shutting down critical life support.
Finally, energy and oil-importing countries are experiencing additional social stress as they witness a 25-75% increase of fuel prices. In Syria and Yemen, fuel shortages and a lack of electricity is already severely impacting the delivery of basic services. The compounded crisis trends in Lebanon, including the sharp increase in energy prices resulting from the Ukraine crisis, have the potential to push the country over the tipping point to become a “critical crisis”.
Click here to access the full report.
Notes to the editor:
Methodology: This rapid assessment aims to contribute to the ongoing analysis and scenario development to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to evolving crisis trends in the MENA region, with specific considerations on how the Ukraine conflict is a risk multiplier to existing crisis trends. The assessment was carried out between 25 April and 3 June 2022 using secondary data and a perception survey of 24 representatives of National Societies and IFRC Heads of Delegation.
For more information:
Rania Ahmed, Deputy Regional Director, IFRC MENA: [email protected] +96171802701
Sri Lanka: Complex emergency
An economic crisis and a ban on synthetic fertiliser in Sri Lanka have sparked civil unrest and food insecurity across the country.Severe food shortages are expected within the coming months, along with shortages of fuel, cooking gas and medicines. Many people are resorting to emergency coping strategies, such as withdrawing their children from school or selling their assets. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society to provide livelihoods and basic needs assistance, as well as safe drinking water and hygiene services, to 500,000 of the most vulnerable people
| Press release
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis spiralling into food crisis
Kuala Lumpur/Colombo, 8 June 2022 – The economic crisis in Sri Lanka is spiralling into a humanitarian emergency as millions of people face acute shortages of food, fuel, cooking gas and medicine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) warned today.
Responding to the unfolding emergency, the IFRC has launched an Emergency Appeal for 28 million Swiss francs to provide immediate critical relief and for longer recovery efforts for an estimated 500,000 people.
Sri Lanka Red Cross Secretary General, Mahesh Gunasekara, said:
“The situation has taken a devastating turn for people already struggling to put food on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s even worse for single parent households, those without steady work and those already suffering a loss of income.
“We need international support now to help hundreds of thousands of people pull their lives back together. It’s going to be a long, tough road for people to rebuild and get their lives back on track.”
The civil unrest and food shortages gripping the country were sparked by an economic crisis that has been developing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Sharp declines in agriculture production have resulted in rapid price increase for staple food items like rice and vegetable, which directly impact the household economy and food security of the most vulnerable.
IFRC Head of South Asia Delegation, Udaya Regmi, said:
“We hold grave concerns for the most vulnerable communities across the country – some 2.4 million people already living below the poverty line who are most affected by the loss of livelihoods, food shortages, and the spiraling cost of essential items.
“The emergency appeal that we have launched in support of Sri Lanka Red Cross will protect the livelihoods and safety of thousands of households in need of support.”
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Rachel Punitha, +60-19-791-3830,
Joe Cropp,+61 (0) 491 743 089,
| Press release
IFRC report: Goals for poverty reduction, decent work and closing inequality gap, stalled by COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean
Panama City, May 20, 2022 - The devastating socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have stalled some of the key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is unlikely that the region will end poverty, ensure gender equality, promote decent and equitable work, and reduce inequality within and between countries by the target date of 2030. This is one of the main findings of "Readjusting the path towards equity," a recent study by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The report confirms that COVID-19 increased unemployment, reduced the income of the poorest families, forced more than one million children to leave school, reduced labour protection and worsened inequality and gender violence.
Head of IFRC's Disaster, Climate and Crisis unit in the Americas, Roger Alonso, said:
"This study helps us understand the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable people’s income, access to food and well-being. The findings underline the fact that a full social and economic recovery will take years. To avoid irreversible levels of vulnerability, it is crucial to implement an inclusive and fair recovery, which also anticipates the effects of the current food and fuel price increases resulting from the conflict in Ukraine."
According to the report, the loss of income of the poorest populations increased food insecurity resulting in 60 million people suffering from hunger in the first year of the pandemic. That same year, 23 million women were pushed into poverty and since then, cases of domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking have increased.
In addition, 10% of jobs in the region were lost during the pandemic, and 30% of these have not yet been recovered. Meanwhile, 51% of the migrant population surveyed by IFRC said they lost their jobs and 53% of those who kept them, saw their income reduced or were not paid.
This IFRC analysis is based on literature review, interviews with experts and representatives of international organizations, as well as 1,825 surveys conducted in Argentina, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Venezuela.
Co-author of the report and IFRC Livelihoods Recovery Officer in the Americas, Daniela Funez, said:
''Listening to the communities we serve is a priority for the Red Cross network. That's what allows us to know their needs in depth and, in this case, the data they provided us confirms the projections made by international agencies about the effects of COVID-19 on the SDGs'."
To address the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic, the IFRC suggests prioritizing attention to the most vulnerable groups, incorporating a gender approach in humanitarian action and contributing to reducing the effects of climate change. It also calls for increased investment in vaccination, protection and livelihood protection, a key issue to close the 60% funding gap needed to continue responding to the medium and long-term effects of COVID-19.
For more information:
In Bogota:David Quijano +57 310 5592559,[email protected]
In Panama:Susana Arroyo Barrantes,[email protected]
| Press release
Horn of Africa: IFRC Secretary General visits Kenya as worst drought in 40 years looms for millions
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]
| Press release
Afghanistan: Food shortages escalate as spring fields remain bare
Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva, 22 March –The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is raising grave fears for millions of Afghans and farming communities as fields remain bare of the annual spring crops.
The ongoing drought means that the area planted with winter wheat is well below average. Field reports indicate that half the ground normally sown with wheat was fallow at the end of the planting window in December. Hunger is worsening in Afghanistan, with 95 per cent of the population going without enough food to eat every day, according to the United Nations.
The few crops which were planted are likely to face harsh conditions, with La Nina expected to bring drier than normal conditions in the coming months, extending the severe drought into a second year.
Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, Afghan Red Crescent Acting President, said:
“Millions of families rely on farming, but they already lost last year’s crops to the severe drought, leaving them without grain to get through the harsh winter or seeds to sow in the fields.
“Without seeds in the ground, there will be no harvest in spring and summer, creating a real risk of famine across Afghanistan, where nearly 23 million people are already unable to feed themselves every day.
“We need to ramp up our efforts to support these communities with relief as they brace for a second year of drought and food shortages, while working to sustain livelihoods that are so important for families and entire communities.”
The drought crisis has fuelled an economic crisis in a country where agriculture is critical for people’s livelihoods and the mainstay of the economy. More than 70 percent of Afghanistan’s population live in rural areas and around 80 percent of livelihoods depend on agriculture, according to the latest IPC Afghanistan food security data.
Afghan Red Crescent, supported by the IFRC, is working with farming communities to have more sustainable water sources, drought resistant crops and other income generation opportunities for women in regional parts of the country.
Johanna Arvo, IFRC’s Acting Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said:
“The ravages of climate change mean risks and hardship are skyrocketing for people in Afghanistan. Millions of people have faced two severe droughts in four years, causing catastrophic crop failures and devastating food shortages.
“Temperatures are rising, leading to reduced snowfall cover, snowmelt and water supplies. Rainfall is becoming more erratic, decimating agriculture in Afghanistan.
“As well as providing immediate relief, we must invest much more in the future by helping Afghans to establish more sustainable water supplies and drought resistant crops, while supporting income generation for the most at risk, including women and the elderly.”
As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for more than 65 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver health services, emergency relief and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Asia Pacific Office:
Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451,
Asia Pacific Office:
Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089,
Southern Madagascar: Cash gives food insecure communities a glimpse of hope
In remote areas of southern Madagascar, vulnerable households go into debt buying food and basic needs due to drought and poverty, paying double the price for rice due to transportation costs.
The Malagasy Red Cross with the support of IFRC and partners, have been providing cash for food and basic needs to the vulnerable households in the Commune of Ambatoabo from July 2021.
The process of identification and registration of beneficiaries for this operation was made up of two complementary stages: a survey carried out by the Malagasy Red Cross volunteers and the validation of the results by the community itself through the committees. Among 2,249 families validated by the community, there was Longonay Berthora’s household.
At only 15 years, Berthora has been supporting himself and his brother for the past two years, in the absence of his mother who remarried and is now living in another village. While studying at the local public primary school, Berthora tries to make ends meet by doing different activities including rice growing, charcoal production, and quarrying for mica - a type of mineral which has a commercial value.
In October, he used part of the cash to pay for wages, as he employs people to cultivate rice on his field. The rice produced is for his consumption and for sale, locally. Berthora is working hard to achieve his goals, “My dream is to become a prison officer, and I wish that my little brother becomes a doctor” he spoke.
Southern Madagascar: Enhancing local food production through sustainable community-based solutions
Southern Madagascar depends on rain-fed agriculture, but recurrent and prolonged drought for the past 20 years is having a devastating impact on access to food for communities.
The Commune of Ambatoabo, Anosy region is no longer the rice provider for the main town due to unfavourable climate conditions. This is a consequence of El Niño which has caused a rainfall deficit and led to a reduction in agricultural productivity, loss of seeds and the deterioration of crops. The Malagasy Red Cross has been implementing a Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) operation in this locality from December 2020 and is now leading recovery activities.
Through the interventions of the Malagasy Red Cross in the Commune of Ambatoabo with the support of the IFRC and partners, the focus has been put on resilient and community-based agriculture, where fruits, local trees and anti-erosive trees have been prioritized. While seeds, tools and technical support are provided, local-based Red Cross volunteers are in charge of mobilizing the community around the nursery trees and vegetable garden activities, and follow-up on the sites.
Now, 33 vegetable garden managers and 22 nurserymen are active in the management of these sites. They were trained on nursery installation, reforestation (planting and digging), and land management, as well as technical training on sowing, planting, and pricking. The local-based Red Cross volunteers acquired the necessary skills to look after the sites and to guide the communities. Also underway is training in crop protection against diseases and insects, using biological techniques.
Daniel Aristide, a 40-year-old farmer, is part of this pool of local-based Red Cross volunteers. Taking part in this operation is a way of learning efficient and adapted techniques of cultivation but especially to “Contribute at his level to the development of his commune”. He also added, “Up to now, three tree nursery sites have been set up with 11,000 plants each. But the goal is to make communities from each locality of Ambatoabo set up and look after their own sites; that is why they come here to learn the techniques first."
Click here to learn more about the IFRC's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF).
| Press release
Drowning just below the surface: New IFRC research reveals magnitude of socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic
Geneva, 22 November 2021 – Women, people in urban areas and those on the move have been disproportionately and uniquely affected by the devastating socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These are some of the findings of new research published today by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The COVID-19 pandemic has had major economic impacts on every nation in the world. The IFRC’s new research also shows the extent of the pandemic’s secondary consequences on communities and individuals. This crisis has caused: increased unemployment and poverty; increased food insecurity; a higher vulnerability to violence; and a loss of education and reduced opportunities for children. It has also exacerbated mental health issues.
Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC, said: “Our research shows what we have long suspected and feared, namely that the destructive secondary impacts of this pandemic have damaged the fabric of our society and will be felt for years, if not decades, to come. People who were already vulnerable, due to conflict, climate-change, and poverty, have been pushed further towards the edge. And many people who were previously able to cope have become vulnerable, needing humanitarian support for the first time in their lives.”
The new research provides a global overview, with a special focus on ten countries: Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Philippines, Spain, South Africa and Turkey. Overall, women had more significant impacts on their income, were at greater risk of COVID-19 due to caregiving roles, more exposed to sexual and gender-based violence and experienced mental health impacts to a greater degree than men. In urban areas, poverty rates grew, in some cases at a faster pace than in rural areas. People on the move were more likely to lose jobs or have their hours cut during the pandemic and have been widely neglected by formal protection and safeguarding measures.
Furthermore, a lack of preparedness made it harder for countries to build a comprehensive response to what has simultaneously become a public health emergency, global economic shock, and political and social crisis.
“As frontline community responders, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the globe have been able to bridge the gaps in this response. They have a deep knowledge of the inequalities that exist and of how they are perpetuated and are therefore among the best placed to help people to recover from the harms to their livelihoods, health and education. But to continue to do so they will need significant additional support: both financial and political,” Rocca continues.
The report also reveals that the world is on course for a wildly unequal recovery, depending on the efficacy and equity of vaccination programmes.
“We have consistently warned that the inequitable distribution of vaccines will not only allow for high levels of transmission to continue, but that this inequity will also hinder, prolong, or exacerbate the impacts of this pandemic. While we continue to allow profits to trump humanity and richer countries continue to monopolize doses, we will never be able to say that this pandemic is over.
“The world must open its eyes, take heed of what is happening around them and shift from words to action. If not, we face the risk that the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will be just as uneven and unjust as the impacts of the pandemic itself,” Rocca concludes.
Click here to download and read the report (available in English, Arabic, French and Spanish).
For more information and to arrange interviews:
In London: Teresa Goncalves, co-author of the report and IFRC COVID-19 Communications Coordinator, +44 (0) 7891 857 056, [email protected]
Watch this short video about the report: