It’s not too late to save children’s lives in East Africa, says World Vision as it reaches three million people

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
  • Aid organisation reaches three million people in six months
  • Hundreds of thousands of children severely malnourished, need urgent treatment to survive
  • Funding for the responses at 60%

Wednesday, September 27

NAIROBI – More than 15 million children in East Africa continue to face lifelong risks to their lives and wellbeing due to ongoing drought and conflict warns World Vision six months after the aid agency began responding to the crisis.

“We are at a crossroads,” said Christopher Hoffman, World Vision’s humanitarian response director in East Africa. “People have responded to the heartbreaking needs of children, but we are still in the danger zone. More than 800,000 children remain severely malnourished and are at risk of starving to death. We have months, maybe only weeks, to stop this from happening.”

Drought in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, along with conflict in South Sudan and other parts of the region has led thousands of children below the age 5 into severe acute malnutrition, a fatal condition if untreated. 

“We’re seeing emaciated children, nearly skeletons, lying in pain in hospital beds. Things we should never see in 2017. We’re seeing mothers unable to breastfeed because they are malnourished themselves. The hunger crisis is wreaking havoc on 24 million people here –more than the population of Berlin, London, Chicago and Bangkok combined,” Hoffman said. 

In recent weeks, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya have reported a spike in malnutrition rates among children, with several areas now reporting that more than a third of their children are suffering health problems from a lack of access to nutritious food. 

The warning comes as World Vision reports that, thanks to its supporters and government donors around the world, it has reached more than three million people with emergency assistance ranging from food packages and emergency school supplies, to drought-resistant seeds, farming tools and access to clean water. 

“We are humbled and encouraged by the difference we have been able to make with the money entrusted to us,” said Hoffman. “But it takes a lot more than World Vision to stop this tragedy in its tracks.

“Children deserve better.” 


Background about East Africa's Hunger Crisis

World Vision is appealing for an additional $57 million US to reach another 3 million people in the next six months. Among the 24 million impacted by drought and conflict in eastern Africa, UNICEF notes that 15.1 million children are being impacted by the ongoing drought and conflict in eastern Africa, with 4.3 million children being impacted in South Sudan, 3.7 million in Somalia, 5.4 million in Ethiopia and 1.7 million in Kenya.

South Sudan

Conflict is preventing food from reaching many areas of the country, leading to a hunger crisis being experienced by 6 million people – half of the country’s population. More than 840,000 children have been identified as acutely malnourished, with 270,000 struggling with severe acute malnutrition.


Drought in north and eastern Kenya is affecting 3.4 million people who require food assistance and clean water. In August, a coalition of humanitarian agencies including World Vision raised alarm about a spike in malnutrition rates, with more than 420,000 children requiring urgent treatment to address acute malnutrition, with 83,000 struggling with severe acute malnutrition. 


A two-year hunger crisis, caused by low and erratic rainfall in the south and eastern parts of the country, has pushed up to 8.5 million people into crisis and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. In August 2017, the Ethiopian government announced that 3.6 million children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers need nutrition assistance to prevent a malnutrition crisis in the next six months. The government predicted that 375,000 children under age 5 will be severely malnourished by the end of 2017.


A two-year drought, coupled with ongoing insecurity in Somalia, has led to a hunger crisis affecting 6.2 million people across the country. In August 2017, the number of malnourished children increased by 20,000, with a warning that 1.4 million children are at risk of experiencing acute malnutrition by the end of year if more humanitarian assistance was not made available. Currently, 87,000 children are experiencing severe acute malnutrition.

For more information, please contact: 

Mark Nonkes | World Vision East Africa - Communication Advisor for Humanitarian Emergencies