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East Africa Hunger Crisis Appeal

The people of East Africa are facing a food crisis on an unimaginable scale. Your support can help save lives.

How often would you like to donate?

‘The time to act is now’

More than 36 million people have been affected by the worst droughts East Africa has seen in forty years. Of those, more than 22 million do not have enough food to survive. Local conflict, combined with skyrocketing food prices, is making the situation even worse.

The climate crisis has changed weather patterns in the region. With five successive failed rainy seasons, and more on the way, food is scarce, harvests have withered away and livestocks have died. Lives have been lost and many more are at risk. Children are especially vulnerable.

In Marsabit, northern Kenya, 80 per cent of livestock have perished as a result of the drought. Lokhu, a mother of six, shares: 'Now our only option is to collect firewood and sell it in the town. I can no longer afford for my eldest to go to school.

'I lost all that I had before including the camels, the cows, the goats and the donkeys. The donkeys have died and so we can not use them to bring water from the borehole. Sometimes we go a week without water… Should it happen that the rains do not come, people will also die.'

Tearfund and our local church partners are on the ground now in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda to tackle the crisis.

Here is some of the life-saving work you’ll be supporting:

  • Providing emergency food relief and cash grants to communities suffering from hunger.
  • Building wells and solar-powered water pumps in drought-affected areas.
  • Supporting people through self-help groups. In these groups, people are able to acquire land for tree planting and farming, access affordable loans, and build fuel-saving stoves.
  • Supporting communities to understand climate change and adapt to its negative effects by investing in drought-resistant crops and finding new and sustainable forms of income.
  • Training farmers with new techniques so that they can adapt to the changing weather patterns.

Resources are stretched like never before, and the crisis is growing every day.

Your support can make a crucial difference.

What’s caused the East Africa crisis?

Global food supply problems

People are forced to rely on expensive food imports, and the war in Ukraine has led to prices skyrocketing even further. Across the region, the price of basic food supplies such as cooking oil and flour has doubled since Russia’s invasion began. And with wheat imports being blocked, supplies of essentials are running low.

Climate change

The climate crisis has changed weather patterns in the region – the United Nations has warned that the March to May 2022 rainy season is likely to have been the driest on record. With four successive failed rainy seasons, and another one potentially on the way, food is scarce and harvests have withered away.

For rural communities, who rely on farming, the drought has made their way of life impossible. It also means that, when the rains do come, the land can no longer absorb the water like it used to. This leads to flash flooding – as the water has nowhere to go. Homes and what little crops or cattle are left are washed away.

Dry ground and foliage with huts

In Ethiopia, the land is parched. Crops have withered away, water is scarce, and people are going hungry | Image credit: Leonilo Endoso/Tearfund

Lack of safe drinking water

The failed rainy seasons have led to water sources drying up across the region. Communities have been forced to travel even further to collect water. Even then, the water they find often isn’t safe to drink – but they have no other choice.

Water is so scarce in some areas that it is transported by water merchants at a price that most people cannot afford. 

‘Even the water l use for drinking comes as a donation,’ says James*, an orphan from Karamoja – one of the poorest and driest regions of Uganda. ‘Here we buy water, and the nearest water point is about ten kilometres [six miles]. Even if l was not blind, with these swollen feet l can’t even get far.’ James’ brother, his last remaining relative, was forced to leave so he could try and find work elsewhere.

Livestock deaths

The lack of water has led to huge numbers of livestock perishing. In Ethiopia, more than 1.5 million farm animals, which families relied on for food and income, have died. This has pushed even more people into poverty.

*Name changed to protect identity

Your support will save lives.

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What other impacts is the crisis having?

The food crisis in East Africa isn’t just leaving people hungry. There are other disastrous knock-on effects:

Children missing out on school

Children are bearing the brunt of this crisis – their opportunities for the future are being taken away. School fees are a luxury many can no longer afford. And even if they could, children are often forced to miss classes due to collecting water or because they are too tired from hunger to make the journey there.

‘Fetching water usually falls to women and girls,’ says Stewart Muchapera, from our East Africa team. ‘This means girls are missing out on education as they now need to walk miles to collect water. The routes can be unsafe too, with women and girls sometimes attacked as they carry out these essential journeys.’

‘My heart aches when I see my friends going to school but there is nothing much l can do. I have to help my mother to feed the family’, Lucia a 12-year-old girl from Uganda tells us.

Lucia* from Uganda was forced to drop out of school to help her mother feed her family. | Image credit: Stewart Muchapera/Tearfund

Increase in child marriages

Ethiopia has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with an estimated 40 per cent of girls marrying before the age of 18. And in areas experiencing extended periods of drought – a symptom of the climate crisis – there has recently been a dramatic increase in girls being forced to marry while they are still children.

‘In these desperate circumstances, families may resort to marrying their daughters off to wealthier families,’ says Simba Nyamarezi, who oversees Tearfund’s work in Ethiopia. ‘They sometimes believe that their daughters will have better chances of survival this way, and they can also use the money from the daughter’s dowry to feed their other children.’

Refugees and displaced people

With food and water scarce and the harvests failing, more and more people are forced to leave their homes and move elsewhere in the hope they can find food, work and refuge.

The people who leave are often exploited for cheap labour. And with the entire region suffering from the effects of the drought, it’s not a crisis many can escape from.

Those who are left behind in communities are often vulnerable and are forced to rely on begging or handouts from their neighbours to survive.


 *Names changed to protect identities

East Africa Hunger Crisis Appeal

The people of East Africa are facing a food crisis on an unimaginable scale. Your support can help save lives.

How often would you like to donate?
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