Horn of Africa Food Crisis: 'The worst drought in living memory'

More than 20 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are facing severe hunger every day. This is as a result of a rapidly escalating food crisis in the Horn of Africa. After consecutive failed rainy seasons, the Horn of Africa is facing its worst drought in four decades.


Withering crops and dying livestock caused by unpredictable weather patterns, and persistent droughts caused by the escalating impacts of climate change are leaving communities extremely vulnerable. With no way to make a living or feed their families, individuals travel far and wide in search of food and water. The drought is also creating displacement as people leave their homes in search of better lives.

Mass displacement is common as people leave their homes in search of better lives.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has further exacerbated an already deadly situation. The invasion has brought a steep increase in food and fuel prices. Some communities have seen the price of bread rise by 163%, pasta by 275%, and fuel by 253%.

How is this crisis impacting women and girls?

Women and girls are disproportionately affected by this crisis. Women are often left to tend to their children, household, and farms alone as the men in the household leave in search of job opportunities and resources.

During times of drought, displacement and rising hunger, women also face an increased risk of sexual violence and exploitation. Earlier this year, a government assessment in Somaliland found that cases of gender-based violence had increased by 24%. For some families, their situation has become so dire that young girls are being forced to marry in exchange for food and water.

In Somaliland it hasn’t rained since last April. Maryan Muhumed Hudhun, a mother of six, shared the implications of the drought on her farm, “You can see my farm. Do you see any good trees except that lemon tree? These trees were beautiful before the drought and water shortage, and this land was full of newly planted trees, but we stopped now, because if we plant new trees, they will wither, like that lemon tree has.”

Maryan Muhumed Hudhun, Somaliland

Some communities have become unliveable, forcing families to flee to internal displacement camps (IDC) in search of water. Sagal Mohamed Saheed, pregnant mother of two living in the Giro-Sumo displacement camp, often skips her own meals to feed her children, sharing:

“Every mother is feeling sorrow when her children are eating only once a day and don’t eat the other two times. I feel sorrow every day. I ask myself, ‘when will we be out of this suffering?’ and many other difficult questions… I get angry when my children cry because of hunger, but I don’t get angry for myself, because I don’t have anything to offer.”

Sagal Mohamed Saheed, pregnant mother of two living in the Giro-Sumo displacement camp

Sagal and her family once lived a prosperous life, but this changed when all their livestock died because of the drought, forcing them to leave their village and migrate to Giro-Sumo.

“I do not know of any other place to go except here. In the place I came from, there was no water, and it was not liveable. But here it is only liveable because of the water – there are no other incentives except the water.”

How is ActionAid responding to the crisis?

ActionAid has supported 60,000 people in Ethiopia and 93,330 people in Kenya with food and cash support. Thousands more in Somaliland have received emergency food and help in adopting sustainable agricultural practices. With additional funds, ActionAid can rapidly scale up its response to the drought situation.

Communities are telling us this is the worst drought in living memory. We must act now to avert a catastrophe.

Donate today to support ActionAid teams on the ground deliver life-saving support to families like Sagal and Maryan.

How you can help mothers’ like Maryan and Sagal? 

Join us in calling on the Australian Government to play its part, and commit to implementing an urgent Famine Prevention Package of $150 million to avert catastrophe in the worst-affected hunger hotspots in the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen. 

Write to your MP today and demand they Help Fight Famine.