Hunger in East Africa doubles in one year with response branded “hugely inadequate”

The response of the international community in responding to the early warning signs of a hunger crisis in East Africa has been branded “hugely inadequate” as hunger more than doubles in one year according to analysis by international development charity, Christian Aid.  

In a report, titled Ripping off the Band Aid, Christian Aid warns hunger has “more than doubled in one year.” On World Humanitarian Day 2021, there were 2.1 million people in Kenya facing food insecurity while 4.1 million Kenyans facing the same fate in 2022. 

In Ethiopia, people facing food insecurity have dramatically escalated from 5.2 million to 20 million. Across Ethiopia and South Sudan, the UN reports gaps in funding have forced a cut to rations, incomplete food baskets and a reduction in the number of people helped.  

The analysis also shows the catastrophic impact on crops, livestock and pasture has been compounded by other shocks, including conflict, flooding, desert locust infestations, the lingering effects of Covid on prices and now disrupted supply chains.  

Christian Aid warns the crisis in East Africa has shown the aid system isn’t fit to respond to the ever-increasing scale of emerging crises. To break the cycle of food hunger, the charity says it is now time to “rip off the band-aid”.  

The development agency is calling for a scaling up of locally driven approaches that builds on existing capacity and local knowledge to strengthen resilience and create the flexibility to rapidly respond to unfolding needs in East Africa and further afield.  

Pointing to the work of their local partner Community Initiative Facilitation and Assistance (CIFA), Christain Aid’s partner in Kenya, Christian Aid says their experience of building communities’ resilience through a partnership approach works.  

Despite the drought’s persistence, a group of women working with CIFA have been able to keep up the productivity of their land to support livestock and the local market for fodder due to investment in improving their land in 2021.  

The group has been able to successfully plant grasses and have sold off three harvests of hay, turning a profit each time above their projections. They are also selling firewood from the land in the local market.   

Mbaraka Fazal, who is based in Kenya and is Christian Aid’s Global Humanitarian Manager, says:   

“The hunger crisis has seen men and boys forced to trek further for water and pastureland, exacerbated conflict over these scarce resources and leaving women and girls at greater risk by being left behind for longer periods without a regular income or basic items. 

“In a world where there is enough food for everyone it is a moral outrage that people are dying of hunger.  

“While helping people currently facing life-threatening hunger is of the utmost importance, so too must we start thinking longer term. We must accept the aid system is but a sticking plaster that is not fit to respond to the ever-increasing scale of emerging crises. 

“Christian Aid’s experience of working with local partner organisations in Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan shows that people’s ability to withstand failed harvests and rising food prices can be significantly improved with supportive preventive action. 

“To break the cycle of food hunger, it’s time to rip off the band-aid and invest in building resilient communities during and between crises. That demands government backed finance and local knowledge to complement early warning systems and anticipatory action.” 

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