East Africa Faces Threat of Worst Famine in Decades

East Africa Emergency

By Nabeeha Shah

The threat of famine looms over countries across East Africa including Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia as conflict and climate induced drought have left nearly 20.5 million people without food. The number is projected to increase to between 23 and 26 million by February 2023 if immediate action isn’t taken.

Over 8.9 million livestock, a main source of food and livelihood for farming communities across the region, have perished. The struggle to find food and water has forced hundreds of thousands of people across the region to migrate in order to survive, further escalating the crisis. The impact of the war in Ukraine is also a particular cause for concern as food prices continue to soar, and 90% of the wheat, a staple in the region’s diet, comes from either Russia or Ukraine.

In 2011-2012, the same three countries experienced devastating famine when two missed rainy seasons resulted in widespread crop failure and subsequent food insecurity. Islamic Relief answered the call for help and provided over 430,000 people across the region with not just food aid, but access to water, sanitation, and healthcare. In Somalia, we rehabilitated two water wells so that communities in Mogadishu and surrounding areas have consistent access to clean and safe water. In Kenya, we supplied 16 health facilities with preventative and curative medicine, including vaccinations for children. In Ethiopia, we were able to provide training on best practices regarding hygiene and sanitation to over 14,000 people across the country. 

More than enough food is produced around the world to feed the global population. In 2022, famine should be a thing of the past. And by the time famine is declared, it’s already too late – people are dying. That’s why we must act now. 

As an organization dedicated to eradicating hunger and poverty, IR is on the ground across Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia focusing on interventions similar to those in 2011 including food security and access to clean water and sanitation.

Through efforts like financial assistance programs; provision of water and hygiene kits; and construction of sanitary facilities, it is our hope to bring dignity to our brothers and sisters across East Africa and let them know they have not been forgotten. 

In Islam, it is incumbent upon us to feed those in need. “He is not a believer who eats his fill whilst his neighbor beside him goes hungry,” [Bukhari]. Join us as we work towards alleviating hunger and take part in our efforts across East Africa. 

To learn how you can help our brothers and sisters across East Africa, visit irusa.org/africa.

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