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Children living in East Africa are on the brink of one of worst famines in 40 years. Right now, more than 2 million children in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan are in the grip of severe acute malnutrition (S.A.M). A hunger so extreme it ravages the mind and body. 

For many families in East Africa, climate change is devastating lives, wiping out homes, crops and animals. While rising food prices mean for many there’s little in the market they can afford to buy. 

What is our Emergency fund? 

Our Emergency Fund allows us to respond quickly and at scale to emergencies around the world, allowing us to immediately allocate money when children need help. 

Last year we responded to crises in 54 countries - including the global hunger crisis - helping 10 million children and 7 million adults. 

Help prevent famine in East Africa

What is famine?

Famine is a food crisis in which the scarcity of food is so severe and widespread that it causes large-scale starvation, malnutrition and death.

Around 5.5 million children are expected to be acutely malnourished in Ethiopia, Kenya & Somalia in 2022, including more than 1.6 million severely acutely malnourished.

16.6 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.


A young man selling water to a family outside Saryaralee village, southern Somalia

A young man selling water to a family outside Saryaralee village, southern Somalia

Three failed rainy seasons in a row have resulted in the East Africa drought which has killed crops and livestock that families rely on – and a fourth is expected.

Climate changes, combined with locust infestations and the impacts of Covid-19 and local conflict have created a perfect storm. 

Children’s lives are at risk. 

  • In Somalia, 70% of families don't have enough food to eat and 6 million people are suffering extreme hunger.
  • Water supplies have dried up in Kenya, and 3.5 million people are suffering extreme hunger.
  • In the Somali region of Ethiopia, 85% of livestock have perished and around 1 million children are malnourished.

These facts are shocking and can feel overwhelming. We can avert huge loss of life if we act now. 

Donate to our emergency fund today. 

What are we doing to help children in East Africa?

For many children, the cure for S.A.M. is devastatingly simple: special milk formula and high-nutrient peanut paste. 

In hospitals and treatment centres, our health workers give life-saving care to children with S.A.M. In the backpacks of community health volunteers and in families’ homes, we get high-nutrient peanut paste to dangerously malnourished children. And we support local communities to prepare for drought and food shortages.

Your support makes that possible.

Right now we're;

  • Providing cash and emergency food to families
  • Trucking water to affected families and camps for the displaced
  • Supporting farmers with seeds, tools and livestock feed
  • Giving safe shelter and emergency kits to fleeing families
  • Creating clinics for healthcare and malnutrition treatment

Learn more about our work supporting children and their families with the climate crisis. 

How we helped Ahmed*

Photo credit: Sacha Myers / Save the Children

Ahmed, one, from Somalia was born into a food crisis. He's already had to battle life-threatening malnutrition.

Food prices in the local market have gone up and the family has had to cut down on meals.

“We have two meals a day – breakfast and lunch. We don’t have dinner because we don’t have enough food. We used to buy milk for the children but now we have stopped that as well.” - Ahmed's mum, Nala*.

They visited one of our stabilisation centres for malnourished children in Puntland, Somalia. After a few days on a special milk formula followed by a 6–8 week course of high-nutrient peanut paste Ahmed’s energy levels had started to pick up dramatically.

A simple but amazingly effective treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

Read his full, incredible story of recovery. 

*Names changed.

Our Emergency Fund

The Fund helped us respond to crises in 54 countries last year, including the global hunger crisis – helping 7 million adults and 10 million children.

Understanding the issue

The term food insecurity is used to describe the situation of people who do not have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

Around 5.5 million children are expected to be acutely malnourished in Ethiopia, Kenya & Somalia in 2022, including more than 1.6 million severely acutely malnourished. 

16.6 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

As the climate crisis makes extreme weather more unpredictable and stronger, including more frequent and more severe droughts and flooding, children will likely suffer the most.

Families' livestock and crops can die, leaving them without an income and children without enough to eat and at risk of acute malnutrition - a life-threatening condition requiring urgent treatment. Malnourished children are far more vulnerable to diseases and even when treated successfully, severe acute malnutrition can prevent a child from developing well, physically and mentally. It remains one of the biggest killers of children under five around the world.

Both droughts and floods can also force families from their homes whether in search of food, water or an income. This can result in children dropping out of school, denying them of a future. Whilst on the move, children can also become separated from their families, leaving them with no-one to turn to and vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. It can also leave families without access to healthcare or shelter to protect them, leaving them exposed to waterborne diseases.

Find out more about the climate crisis

This hunger crisis is all of our responsibility 

We must tackle this crisis at its roots – from climate change to poverty to war,

Britain has a key role and responsibility. Already, UK aid helps save lives and strengthen communities. But aid alone won’t deliver the deep-rooted changes that are needed.

Three easy ways to help children in East Africa

Across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia a lethal combination of poverty, climate change, covid and war, coupled with avoidable delays is causing S.A.M. to spread like wildfire.

Thinking about this, alongside all the other hard things going on in the world at the moment can feel quite overwhelming.

There is hope. But we have to act now.

Stopping S.A.M. in its tracks: The power of peanuts 

Behind every shocking statistic that seems to fade like a bad dream as soon as we read something else, is a beloved child. An individual. Someone with potential. Who had dreams, a favourite colour, a best friend, a big smile when they found something really funny, and someone who loved them.


Mohamed's story

 STC personnel treat Mohamed as his mother Ayan holds him
 Mohamed, 17 months old, plays with his mother Ayan, 25, at their home, five months after he recovered from malnutrition, Ethiopia

It’s hard to believe how poorly Mohamed was just 5 months before the picture above was taken. As he scampers around his home with the world at his feet, his proud mum Ayan watches on, knowing her son was close to death with S.A.M. “I’m very thankful to Save the Children and the doctors who treated and saved my child’s life,” says Ayan.

Right now we're;

  • Delivering cash grants and trucking water to families hit hardest by drought
  • Training health volunteers to detect child malnutrition in young children, so they can support families in areas with high rates
  • Vaccinating livestock to help prevent the spread of disease and protect livelihoods.

Right now we're;

  • Providing emergency water supplies and building water stations for families in camps
  • Giving cash to families so they can buy food and support their children how they choose
  • Running health facilities and treating children who are malnourished
  • Supporting education so that children don’t miss out on learning.

Right now, we're;

  • training community members so they can diversify their income-sources, helping them to earn a sustainable living in case of future shocks,
  • helping local families make the most of their natural resources,
  • building and repairing boreholes and health systems, so families are more resilient during extended periods of drought,
  • creating community-based disaster-management committees, who can develop their own plans and strategies to adapt to extreme weather according to their local needs

Learn more about our work supporting children and their families with the climate crisis. 


Help prevent famine in East Africa

More ways to help