Fighting famine in East and Central Africa


Millions of children, women and men face starvation and disease. Without urgent action, the crisis will continue to spiral out of control. Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers – who live in the communities under threat – are working to break this preventable cycle of drought, food shortage, disease and death.

National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are racing to help stop the crisis.

Recent news from Ethiopia

In Ethiopia’s Afar region, the current drought has had a devastating impact on local communities, with thousands of villagers having lost almost all of their livestock.

28 June 2017

When the Ethiopian Red Cross Society wanted to start distributing emergency water rations to the most vulnerable of families in these hardest to access communities, getting there was a noted challenge.

12 May 2017

It is normally a busy homestead. There are fences and thatched roofs which need repairing, crops which need tending to, water to be collected, and livestock to be put to work on the land.

9 May 2017



Our three key priorities are to:

  • Reach remote and underserviced areas.
  • Respond through our volunteer network to help communities prevent and treat malnutrition and disease.
  • Build community resilience through programmes that restore dignity and strengthen food security and reduce need in the future.


Ethiopia faces a serious food crisis after consecutive rain failures in 2015, combined with erratic El Niño weather conditions. In the past two years, almost every part of Ethiopia has experienced below average rainfall. Pastoralist communities in southern and south-eastern lowland areas have suffered heavy livestock losses and reduced access to food. Malnutrition rates are rising across the country. There are now 7.7 million people in need of food assistance – an increase of 2.2 million people since 2016. Water shortages are exacerbating the ongoing acute watery diarrhoea outbreak, particularly in the Somali region where there is a concurrent measles outbreak.


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IFRC appeal

The Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) is providing vulnerable communities, especially, children under five and pregnant and lactating mothers, with supplementary food, improved malnutrition screening and referral, support to community health services, improved access to safe water and hygiene promotion, and reinforce family livelihoods and coping mechanisms.

13,686,500 Swiss francs

 for urgent humanitarian support

 An increase of 2,595,467 Swiss francs to assist 318,325 people over the next 9 months

Our impact

  • Food distribution for over 700 pregnant and lactating women and 2,300 children under five.
  • Hygiene promotion and nutrition messages for nearly 900 households.
  • Post-distribution visits to 4,500 households. • A WASH needs assessment conducted for a sample of 280 households.
  • Community-based health care, first aid training and tool kits provided for 75 volunteers.
  • Household awareness sessions on hygiene and sanitation, acute watery diarrhoea, identification and monitoring of severe acute malnutrition cases and linking with the health facilities.
  • Supplementary feeding for over 56,500 children under five, and pregnant and lactating women, with a cost of 840,000 Swiss francs covered through ERCS’ own national and regional fundraising efforts.

Date: 02/06/2017

Urgent actions

Food security and nutrition

Provision of supplementary food rations, animal restocking, provision of animal fodder and agricultural seeds.


Screening, referral and registration for children and pregnant and lactating women with acute malnutrition.

Water, sanitation and hygiene

Water purification tools, storage containers and buckets, water seal communal latrines, rehabilitation of wells, springs, dams and ponds.

National capacity

Training for community-based first aid and health, provision of first aid kits and mobile phones for reporting.

Community engagement

Health, hygiene and sanitation promotion for schools and households.


38,355 active volunteers.

Key figures

7.7 million

People in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.

70 per cent

Ponds in some areas that have dried up, with others contaminated by faeces.

50 per cent

Drop in school attendance in some areas due to lack of water.