Global hunger, famine & food security

Emergency food crisis

The world stands on the brink of an unprecedented four famines in 2017.

An extreme lack of food is causing severe hunger, malnutrition and even famine, across South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen and the Horn of Africa.

Around 30 million people are experiencing alarming levels of food insecurity while 10 million are at risk of famine across these regions. They’ve warned as many as 1.4 million children could die of starvation in the coming months.

Oxfam is on the ground in each of these regions, providing lifesaving food, clean water and sanitation to families who are in desperate need of help.

This is the largest hunger emergency in the world. While there are differences between each of these crises, we know that each situation will get worse in the coming months unless urgent help is delivered to those at risk.

This is a crisis we cannot ignore. Worsening hunger and the spread of famine are imminent, but not yet inevitable. We can still stop the spread of famine and prevent a catastrophic loss of life if we act now.

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Who is affected?

South Sudan

In South Sudan 100,000 people are already experiencing famine, while around 7.5 million more are in need of emergency assistance across the country. With harvests still months away and the coming rainy season likely to cut off access to those worst affected, half the country is expected to be affected by extreme hunger by July 2017.

Nyaruach had to flee her home in Leer, South Sudan to protect her family. Photo: Bruno Bierrenbach Feder/Oxfam


In Nigeria at least 4.4 million people in the northeast are in desperate need of emergency food, including 400,000 people living in areas cut off from aid who are likely already suffering famine.

2 year old Aamin* is held by his mother Aisha* at a camp for displaced people in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. Aisha tells Oxfam: “He’s sick and there’s no food. We’ve been here for a year like this.” *Names have been changed to protect identities. Photo: Sam Tarling / Oxfam

Horn of Africa

Across the Horn of Africa 11 million people are in need of emergency food and water due to severe drought across Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. In Somalia, already serious food insecurity could tip into famine if the April-June rains fail and people do not receive humanitarian support.

Maryama lives in the the Somali Region of Ethiopia. She told Oxfam she desperately needed food, water and medicine for her children. Photo: Tina Hillier/Oxfam


In Yemen, almost two-thirds of the population are hungry, with more than 7 million of these people at the point of starvation and don’t know where their next meal is coming from. More than 46,000 people have been killed or injured since the escalation of the conflict in March 2015.

This young girl and her family were displaced by Yemen’s conflict and now lack income. Her father, Ahmed Shwaa, who was a farmer before the war, tells Oxfam: “All that matters is to live in peace. But now, we cannot provide food for our family and we cannot live in peace.” Photo: Moayed Al-Shaybani/Oxfam

How is Oxfam responding?

Oxfam is on the ground in all four areas, reaching the most affected with the emergency help they need to survive. We are:

  • Working with local partner organisations who provide emergency food distributions and work with vulnerable people to produce their own food and other income.
  • Providing emergency water and sanitation, to stop the spread of diseases like cholera and diarrhea.
  • Providing cash and vouchers so people can purchase the food they need to survive
  • Trucking in urgently needed water to the worst drought affected areas
  • Constructing showers and toilets for those who have been forced to flee their homes

We can stop the worst from happening. You can save lives by supporting Oxfam’s work providing emergency help to those who need it most.

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