Emergency appeal over African food crisis


Oxfam Ireland is launching an emergency appeal today to fight a major food crisis hitting countries in East Africa.

Soaring food prices, drought and disease are causing chronic poverty in parts of Kenya, Uganda, Somalia and Ethiopia, the charity claims.

Officials who have returned from the region said starving families have been forced to eat animal feed intended for livestock.

Oxfam Ireland called on international donors to increase aid levels to the region.

“Irish people have always responded generously to emergency appeals,” said chief executive Jim Clarken.

“Long-term investment in agricultural development and the empowering of local people is needed to prepare for future disasters to prevent this vicious cycle of food crises, which have plagued East Africa.”

Oxfam workers are currently reaching an estimated 500,000 people across the region with water and food aid programmes.

The charity is also helping people to protect their livestock and crop seeds to secure their livelihoods.

In Somalia, the cost of imported rice has trebled in the past 18 months while wheat prices in parts of Ethiopia have doubled since the beginning of the year, Oxfam said.

An infestation of caterpillars has damaged almost 70 per cent of crops and pasture in four northern districts of Kenya. One in four children living in the Turkana area of northern Kenya is suffering from acute malnutrition.