A deadly mix of conflict, COVID‐19, insect attack and persistent droughts have pushed more than 7 million people across six countries in East Africa to the very edge of starvation. According to UN reports, approximately 108,000 people there were under catastrophic famine‐conditions, a phase marked by critical acute malnutrition, starvation, destitution and death. This phase is understood in the humanitarian sector as the highest and most urgent Integrated Food Insecurity Phase Classification (IPC) of level 5. Additionally, almost 7.8 million people are exposed to emergency phase (IPC4), and if things worsen are one step away from famine. As many as 26 million are classified at “crisis level” (IPC3), where action is needed now to stop them sliding into emergency.
The region has endured substantial and widespread breeding of desert locusts since late 2019, resulting in loss of pasture and crops. Added to this, from June to December 2020, rising conflicts has exacerbated the food insecurity situation in the region. The Climate Prediction and Application Centre and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization have both made predictions of dry conditions and worsening food insecurity situation in 2021. Coupled with economic impact of COVID‐19, lockdowns continue to destroy livelihoods and push millions into desperation.
This challenging period could erode human and economic development gains that have been made towards the global Sustainable Development Goals across the region. The rising food insecurity also increases the risks faced by women and girls, including gender‐based violence and sexual exploitation and abuse.
In view of these pressing emergency needs, ZeShan Foundation made in the summer of 2021 three major emergency grants to support the ongoing famine-related relief operations in South Sudan and Ethiopia by three INGOs, namely Oxfam, World Vision and Medecins Sans Frontieres. The relief efforts include provision of food relief, clean water and sanitation, emergency healthcare and protection of vulnerable groups, especially children and women.