LONDON: Just two in 10 people in Britain know that the Horn of Africa is facing its worst drought in 40 years, new polling by Christian Aid has revealed, which the charity described as “deeply concerning.”
Three failed rainy seasons and the effects of the war in Ukraine on global food prices has pushed large parts of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia to the edge of a devastating famine.
Much of the population of the three countries is killing livestock for food, with many families abandoning their homes in the fight for survival.
Wheat, fuel, sunflower oil and other staples have become critically expensive in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where much of the world’s grain supply comes from.
But Christian Aid found that while 91 percent of people in the UK are aware of the war in Eastern Europe, less than a quarter (23 percent) are aware of the dire humanitarian situation afflicting east Africa.
Patrick Watt, CEO of Christian Aid, said: “Across the Horn of Africa, up to 20 million people are facing hunger. Droughts have become increasingly severe and frequent, and so this is not a surprise. However, the war in Ukraine has turned a bad situation into a dire crisis. With rocketing food and energy costs around the globe, we are seeing people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia facing a crisis like no other.”
He added: “While we cannot thank the public enough for their response to humanitarian needs in Ukraine, the fact that so few people in Britain are aware of the crisis in the Horn of Africa is deeply concerning.”
Charities, major NGOs and the UN have warned that, while the support for the Ukrainian population and refugees has been immense, the conflict has distracted the world from other pressing global crises such as the humanitarian situation in Yemen and the risk of famine in east Africa.
In Somalia, 40 percent of the country’s 15.8 million people are enduring extreme levels of hunger.
Last month, the UN’s World Food Programme said the country faced “a very real risk of famine” if the worst drought in 40 years continued without adequate support from the rest of the world.
The WFP added that the number of Kenyans requiring food support has risen more than fourfold in the past two years. It also said that the south and south-east of Ethiopia hold more than 7 million people who are suffering from hunger.
Urging global governments to do more, Watt said: “We must sound the alarm and give hope to people in need in the region. The cost of living crisis is global and demands urgent action from the government and the development sector.”