A young boy who was first identified as suffering from acute malnutrition in late January 2017 by a Save the Children outreach team.

East Africa Food Crisis Appeal

Millions of children are at risk

East Africa is in the grip of a critical hunger crisis

Over 22.6 million people across Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya are in desperate need of food.

We've responded quickly and have scaled up our work in all four countries, providing urgently needed food, water and medical treatment to those in need.

We've already reached over 2.6 million people in Somalia alone, but the crisis is not over.

After only light showers during what should have been the rainy season, families have been forced to leave their homes in search of food.

The drought has caused crops to fail and cattle to die. The lack of clean water has increased the spread of disease, leaving children vulnerable to life-threatening illnesses like cholera. In Somalia alone, there have been more than 42,00 reported cases.

Without continued support, more people will continue to slip even closer to extreme hunger.

We cannot see a repeat of 2011. That was the last time famine affected this part of Africa and 250,000 people died – 130,000 of them children - before the world took action.

If we don’t continue to respond now, thousands of lives will be at risk.

Our teams are already on the ground treating malnourished children, delivering food vouchers, water and life-saving medical care.

How we're helping

Ethiopia crisis.

We’re a leading aid agency in Ethiopia and have the expertise and experience needed to save children’s lives.

Our teams are working across the regions of AfarOromiaSomali and SNNPR.

We aim to reach 1.12 million people by the end of the year, including 784,000 children. Our work will include:

Scaling up our nutrition response

We're supporting emergency nutrition responses in 61 districts. Our teams are treating malnourished children and enrolling women who are pregnant or breastfeeding into supplementary feeding programmes.

£10,800 could fund one of our stabilisation centres for six months, providing urgent care for dangerously malnourished children.

Deploying mobile health teams

Our skilled mobile health and nutrition teams are supporting 65 case treatment centres and health centres by providing medical supplies, specialist healthcare support and clean water.

£10,000 could fund an outpatient therapeutic treatment kit. This would equip a mobile team to support six rural health centres with equipment and special high-nutrient food for treating malnourished children.

Preventing the spread of disease

With acute watery diarrhoea spreading at a worrying rate, we have provided hygiene messages to more than 69,000 people in a bid to try and limit the spread of disease, as well as equipping 15 cholera treatment centres with water sanitation and hygiene facilities.

£3,987.00 could pay for a cholera treatment kit to improve hygiene, provide sanitation and prevent the disease from spreading.

We'll stay in Ethiopia for as long as we're needed. With you help, we aim to save lives now and to help people rebuild their lives for the future.

That's why we're aiming to raise £40.9 million over the next year.

South Sudan

Across the world’s youngest nation, war, displacement and a collapsing economy have left 100,000 people on the brink of starvation. We have been treating children with malnutrition, reuniting separated families, and keeping children safe from the brutality of conflict since the war broke out in 2013.

  • We are deploying our innovative Emergency Health Unit to Uganda to save South Sudanese children suffering from disease. 
  • Our teams will be providing essential healthcare, reaching an average of 2,500 people every day. 
  • We’ll be setting up health services which will provide life-saving primary healthcare to people fleeing war and famine. 
  • We’ll be treating a range of key illnesses to ensure that children and their families have the best chance of survival. 
  • We’ll also be making sure that malnourished children are referred for specialist care and treating common complications of malnutrition such as pneumonia.

In response to the crisis, we're scaling up our work in three of Kenya's worst affected areas - TurkanaWajir and Mandera.

We're coordinating our work with Kenya's Ministry of Health to make sure all affected communities are reached. 

By the end of the year, we're aiming to reach 337,000 children who are at risk from hunger, and 540,000 people in total. Our response will include:

Running malnutrition screenings

Our Emergency Health Unit is already undertaking mass nutrition screenings across Turkana, reaching children like four-year-old Ekungol (below) with vital treatment.

We have three teams screening children across 25 villages for malnutrition. In all, the team will be working across three sub-counties, reaching 160,000 people.

For £6,500 we can buy enough highly nutritious peanut paste to treat 100 children with severe acute malnutrition for 10 weeks.

Trucking water to schools and health centres

We have started water trucking to schools and health facilities, helping them to stay open amid risks of closure due to the worsening conditions. So far, we've reached 6,000 children across 18 schools, and 4,000 people across seven health facilities.

For £9,750 we can provide enough water to keep a school of 900 children open for three months, helping them to stay healthy and continue their education.

Supporting health facilities

We will be supporting 254 health facilities, including 19 referral hospitals. We'll also send out teams to run mobile health clinics and outreach services screening children for malnutrition.

And our teams will refer seriously ill children to specialist centres - it costs £183 to transfer a child from a community clinic to a stabilisation centre for specialised treatment and care.

We've worked in Kenya for decades, and we'll stay for as long as we're needed. With you help, we aim to save lives now and to help people rebuild their lives for the future.

That's why we're aiming to raise £32.7 million over the next year.


Save the Children is the largest aid agency in Somalia.

We are operating in 16 out of 18 regions, providing vital and health and nutritional services, clean water and sanitation, education and cash transfer programmes for vulnerable communities.

In response to the intensifying crisis, we've rapidly scaled up our programmes, reaching more than 130,000 people in February compared to 30,000 in January.

By the end of the year, we're aiming to reach 1.5 million children whose lives are at risk, and 2.5 million people in total. Our response will include:

Providing up to 20 mobile health units

Our mobile health units will ensure that children suffering from malnutrition, acute diarrhoea, pneumonia and other life-threatening diseases can receive the care they need. £18,000 allows us to staff and run one mobile clinics with a doctor, two nurses, a midwife, a pharmacist and clinical officers for three months.

These facilities will help us scale up our existing response, helping us reach more children like 18-month-old Deka*, pictured here at Borama Hospital, in the Somaliland region.

Deploying our Emergency Health Team

With many families struggling to access clean water, outbreaks of deadly diseases like cholera are on the increase. We already have a team on the ground supporting a 35-bed cholera treatment centre in Baidoa. Our Emergency Health Team will help scale this up, and set up a second centre in Kismayo.

For £52,000 we can staff and run one cholera treatment centre, both treating people with the disease and referring them for more specialised help where needed.

We will also set up 15-20,000 oral rehydration points in communities facing cholera epidemics across the country. These will be critical in preventing severe dehydration and saving lives.

Reaching remote communities

We are targeting the most vulnerable households with cash grants, food and animal feed. Our water, sanitation and hygiene teams are reaching rural and pastoralist families in the hardest hit areas with clean drinking water.

And we're building and repairing community water catchment facilities, public boreholes and shallow wells.

We're in Somalia for the long haul. With you help, we aim to save lives now and to help people rebuild their lives for the future.

That's why we're aiming to raise £83 million over the next year.

Four-year-old Basra is living in in an informal camp in Bohol-Olodley.

Four-year-old Basra travelled with her family in search of fertile ground to feed their livestock

Basra is living with her mother, Amina, and siblings in a camp in Bohol-Olodley. The family’s livestock shrunk from 400 to just 50, due to severe drought.

They travelled from their home near Garowe, Puntland, in search of fertile ground. Their remaining livestock are all too weak to produce milk, and Amina’s one-year-old granddaughter is sick and has diarrhoea.

Aisha's story

Baby Aisha’s mother died following a short illness only forty days after giving birth

Aisha is a grandmother from north-east Nigeria. Her granddaughter – also named Aisha – is just three months old. The mother's death was the beginning of a terrifying ordeal for the family during which the baby’s father was abducted and Aisha was forced to flee on-foot with her granddaughter after her village was attacked. 

Using powdered milk for infants in contexts where hygiene and access to safe water is non-existent will increase the risk of diarrhoea and other life-threatening illnesses.

After a horrific experience, the grandmother eventually found her way to a Save the Children therapeutic feeding centre and was immediately referred to the aid agency’s intensive care unit for malnourished children. Here, baby Aisha* has been receiving treatment for malnutrition.

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Last updated September 2017.

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