The forgotten crisis: famine in the Horn of Africa

Locust plague in East Africa
Locust plague in East Africa. Photo credit: Fredrik Lerneryd/CRS.

Millions across Eastern Africa are facing extreme levels of hunger and malnutrition, as the region's food insecurity continues to be inflamed by ongoing conflict, severe drought, locust plagues and a shortfall in humanitarian funds.

The most vulnerable families are fleeing their homes in search of clean water, food and farmable land, leading to a significant spike in internally displaced persons in the region. As food supplies dwindle, it is estimated that over 70 percent of displaced persons in need will experience hunger.

This comes at a time when the Horn of Africa continues to struggle with the macroeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worst locust plague in 25 years for Ethiopia and Somalia, and the worst in 70 years for Kenya which have destroyed crops across the region and left millions without their harvest after months of labour.  

A recent UN report has also detailed the devastating impacts the conflict in Ukraine has had on vulnerable communities that rely on grain supplies sourced from the country.

If you look at the World Food Programme, they buy most of their grain from Ukraine and Russia. Add that to climate change, add internal conflicts, internally displaced populations and now drought. It’s the compounded effect of these crises that makes the situation in the Horn of Africa absolutely horrifying.

Joyce Msuya, UN Deputy Emergency Relief Chief

Together, Ukraine and Russia provide 30 percent of the world’s wheat and barley, one-fifth of its maize, and over half of its sunflower oil.

Many vulnerable communities living in the Horn of Africa rely heavily upon this supply as an essential source of food, so the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has dealt another devastating blow to the food security of countries like Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Flow-on effects of this conflict, such as the rising prices of household essentials like maize, a marked decrease in production and disrupted supply chains, have also contributed to what has become one of the biggest food crises the region has faced in history.

On top of that, the Horn of Africa is also experiencing a devastating drought following three consecutive poor rainy seasons, exacerbating food and water shortages in the region.

Last week, the World Food Programme announced that 20 million people living in the Horn of Africa could go hungry this year due the combined effects of these crises unless urgent action is taken.

Legumes From Emergency Food Distribution In Ethiopia. Photo CRS
Legumes from emergency food distribution in Ethiopia. Photo credit: CRS.

Caritas Australia is supporting our African partners, including Caritas Ethiopia, to provide lifesaving essentials to families who have been displaced and communities that have been impacted by crippling food insecurity such as:

  • Emergency food supplies to people at risk of hunger and malnutrition.
  • Clean drinking water and sanitation support, including the establishment of latrines.
  • Hygiene assistance, including the distribution of soap, dental supplies and underwear. 
  • Shelter and basic household supplies.
  • Emergency cash assistance to the most vulnerable families.

The unprecedented levels of need in East Africa has led to a significant shortfall of humanitarian funds for this region, as NGOs grapple to provide assistance to other major unfolding crises like the Russia-Ukraine war.

Your support is urgently needed. Please give what you can today to provide lifesaving aid and assistance to families affected by this worsening crisis.



The funds raised through this appeal will be used to provide immediate and longer-term humanitarian assistance to communities affected by crises in Africa, including the Horn of Africa crisis. Any funds leftover are kept in the Africa Emergency Appeal so that we can respond to ongoing needs and future crises in the region.