Up to 28 million people in East Africa are at risk of extreme hunger because of price spikes caused by the Ukraine war and potential lack of rain this March, Oxfam has warned.
Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are experiencing the driest weather in 40 years, meanwhile South Sudan is tackling ongoing flooding, the charity said.
It also highlighted what it views as the distraction of the international community because of the Ukraine conflict, leading to a neglect of the food crisis facing East African.
Describing the global response as “woefully underfunded”, a press release stated that only 3% of the $6bn (£4.5bn) UN 2022 humanitarian appeal for Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan had been funded.
“Areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and beyond are experiencing an unfolding full-scale catastrophe. Even if the rains do arrive this month, full recovery will be near impossible unless urgent action is taken today,” Oxfam’s International Executive Director Gabriela Bucher warned.
“The repercussions of the Ukrainian conflict on the global food system will reverberate around the globe, but it is the poorest and most vulnerable people who will be among those hit hardest and fastest,” she said.
East African countries get up to 90% of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia, Oxfam said.
One farmer, Ahmed Mohamud Omar from Wajir County in Kenya, said the lack of food and water was impacting his cattle:
“Due to the droughts our donkeys have perished and the ones remaining are too weak to pull carts.
“I think about what my family will eat, where will their next meal come from, whether I will get the daily jerrycan of water.”