HORN OF AFRICA On World Food Day 17 mio people face starvation

NAIROBI (October 15, 2008) – In Ethiopia, at least 6.4 million people need emergency food aid. In Somalia, nearly half the population is slowly starving, and the country is facing a food crisis unseen since the famine of the early 1990s. And in Kenya, poor families are paying as much as 80 percent of their income just on food alone.

A combination of drought, conflict, and rising food prices has left more than 17 million people in the Horn of Africa sliding into a full-blown humanitarian crisis – that’s the equivalent of nearly the entire population of Australia facing starvation. These countries are heading into the peak hunger season when cereal prices are at their highest, and families have no stocks left from the previous harvest.

But with world markets in a downward spiral and world leaders warning of a coming global recession, the food crisis and the fate of 17 million people in Africa is being pushed down the list of priorities.

“These countries were already facing a combined threat of drought and rising food prices,” said Jonathan Mitchell, CARE’s Emergency Director. “Add to this the global financial crisis, and things could hardly be any worse. The perfect storm just got more perfect.”

In CARE’s Living on the Edge of Emergency report released last month, CARE warned that the number of people on the edge of a food emergency has skyrocketed to 220 million – almost twice as many in 2006. As governments tighten their spending, CARE is again warning that the international community must focus their efforts on disaster risk reduction, investing in food production and providing long-term safety nets to prevent the poorest from falling over the edge into starvation.

The consequence of not heeding this warning is what we’re seeing today in the Horn of Africa.

“We’re living in a world of global volatility, and we need to have a road map on how to confront hunger,” said Mitchell, who recently returned from Ethiopia and Kenya, two of the hardest-hit countries. “For the 17 million people facing starvation in the Horn of Africa, it’s too late for mitigation measures. We need to act now to prevent a full-scale humanitarian catastrophe.”

CARE, with more than 60 years’ experience distributing food to families in need, is rushing to fill the gap. CARE is providing emergency assistance such as food and drinking water to 3.1 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan.

About CARE: CARE is one of the world’s largest, non-political international humanitarian and development organizations, headquartered in Switzerland. CARE has been providing emergency assistance and development programs in the Horn of Africa since 1968.

Media contacts:
Bea Spadacini, Africa Communications Manager (Nairobi)
Mobile: +254.725.22.1036 e-mail: [email protected]
Melanie Brooks, Media and Communications Coordinator (Geneva)
Mobile: +41.79.590.3047 e-mail: [email protected]