The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Madiha Raza at or
Ivy Nyayieka at

25 million people face extreme hunger in East Africa if drought continues, warns IRC


The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is scaling up its response to the East Africa drought - the worst seen in 40 years - with $5 million to provide urgent humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. But the scale of needs resulting from extreme drought are overwhelming. The gap in funding for the humanitarian response plans for the region will cost lives - more funding is needed to support the 25 million people in East Africa facing extreme hunger and water shortages. IRC calls for a coordinated, urgent response from donors and the international community to protect lives, livelihoods and prevent famine.

  • 13 million people already experiencing extreme food and water shortages across East Africa

  • 25 million people in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya may face extreme hunger in the next three months as a result of severe drought

  • Admissions for severe and acute malnutrition are the highest on recent record in drought affected areas in all three countries

  • Somalia still needs more than 96% of required funding to be able to reach targeted population with critical humanitarian aid

  • Kenya's 2021 humanitarian response plan for the drought fell short of required funding by 90%

  • IRC is launching a $5 million response for people affected by the drought- more funding is still needed

Frank McManus, Country Director for Ethiopia at the IRC, says, "La Nina weather patterns and climate change has led to the driest conditions seen in Ethiopia in more than 40 years leading to 307,000 people becoming displaced as they search for water, food and new pastures for farming. Humanitarian needs in Ethiopia are soaring as drought is exacerbated by ongoing conflict across the country. The IRC has committed 2.5 million USD to providing critical services to people in Ethiopia alone living through this severe drought, but much more needs to be done in order to meet the scale of need. The 2011 drought was catastrophic, more than 260,000 people in Eastern Africa lost their lives and millions others went hungry as a result of extreme drought and failed crop production. This year is on track to be much worse. We urge donors, the international community and civil society to collaborate on managing this massive shock."

"The crisis in Ukraine will make matters worse. Increasing cost of fuel risks driving up food prices, and fewer people will be able to access wheat imported from Ukraine and Russia- the source of 90% of East Africa's imported wheat."

"The IRC is responding to the drought in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, providing essential services such as water and cash assistance to those impacted. Without investing in more humanitarian support, we will see a longer term impact on the population with their livelihoods and assets eroded. IRC is scaling up its response in southeastern Ethiopia through this contribution but much more needs to be done to meet the scale of needs."

The IRC has been working in the Horn of Africa region since 1981. In Ethiopia, IRC reaches clients through programs in environmental health, health, education, child protection, economic recovery and development, and women's protection and empowerment in the region. In Somalia, where the IRC began working in 1981 in the aftermath of the Somalia-Ethiopia conflict, the IRC works to address the immediate humanitarian needs of the Somali population while simultaneously supporting the resilience and development of the country. In Kenya, IRC provides life-saving emergency aid, currently supporting 300,000 people with primary and reproductive health care, nutrition support for malnourished children, women's protection and empowerment, and economic and livelihood support helping refugees and vulnerable Kenyans to start businesses and rebuild their lives.

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world's worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.