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 5.6 million people in need of food assistance. Water shortages are exacerbating the ongoing acute watery diarrhoea outbreak, particularly in the Somali region where there is a concurrent measles outbreak.

Download Snapshot PDF

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.

10,408,171 Swiss francs

to help 318,000 vulnerable people devastated by drought

Our impact

  • 91,400 children and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers have been provided with food.
  • 5,000 goats have been distributed to 1,000 families, many of whom lost their livestock due to drought conditions.
  • 25,800 people have received portable clean drinking water.
  • 281 volunteers trained to provide community-based health care and first aid to drought-affected families.

Download Ethiopia response highlights PDF

Date: 01/02/2018

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.