Mother and child in the SOS family strengthening programme, Ethiopa
East Africa – April 4 2018

Drought leaves millions of children at risk of famine in East Africa

A severe drought has left more than twenty million people across Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan facing food insecurity and a million children acutely malnourished. A further six million people have been displaced in search of water and pasture.

This is the first time a famine has been declared in the area since 2010, when hundreds of thousands of people died of starvation.

The humanitarian crisis is being exacerbated by the ongoing civil war in South Sudan which is hampering attempts to deliver urgently needed medical and food supplies and forcing refugees into countries already under extreme pressure from food and water shortages.

CEO of SOS Children’s Villages UK Alison Wallace said: “We are deeply concerned about the impact the East Africa crisis is having on the region’s children. Malnutrition can have devastating consequences for young children and without urgent action an entire generation will be at risk of being permanently physically and mentally impaired.

“Providing emergency food is only part of the solution. Children also desperately need access to clean water to prevent water-borne diseases such as cholera. There have been nearly 2,500 confirmed cases since January, risking children’s lives and worsening malnutrition.”

SOS Children’s Villages is working with local agencies to deliver emergency aid and provide healthcare and nutritional support to children and their families across the region. We are also helping to build the affected communities’ resilience to future climate shocks through long-term family strengthening and income-generation projects.

Our work in the region includes:
  • Providing emergency food, water and sanitation
  • Helping farming communities rebuild with seeds and livestock
  • Supplying medicine and equipment to clinics and health centres
  • Offering nutritional screening and education for children and pregnant women
  • Reconstructing water infrastructure to guarantee future supplies
  • Providing access to education and equipping schools and students
  • Training local officials in emergency preparedness and response

You can find out more information about SOS Children’s Villages emergency relief operations here.

Notes to editors:
For media enquiries please contact Lucy Prioli at or on 01223 222 974.