Horn of Africa Malnutrition Crisis | UNICEF USA
On 9 July, a woman and several children walk through a dust storm to their tent, in an area for new arrivals in the Dagahaley refugee camp in North Eastern Province, near the Kenya-Somalia border. The camp is among three that comprise the Dadaab camps, lo


What is the Horn of Africa?

The Horn of Africa is the most eastern region of Africa – a peninsula in the shape of a horn. Broadly, parts or all of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Kenya make up the Horn of Africa. 

What is the Horn of Africa malnutrition crisis?

The child malnutrition crisis in the Horn of Africa is ongoing, caused by a combination of prolonged drought, rapidly increasing food prices and escalating armed conflict. Three consecutive failed rainy seasons in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have decimated crops and caused abnormally high numbers of lifestock deaths. Meanwhile, shortages of water and pasture are pushing families out their homes and triggering conflict between communities.

Food crises remain ubiquitous across the Horn of Africa. The malnutrition crisis is exacerbated by climate change and COVID-19. Children and families are often forced to flee their homes in search of safety and arable land. 

UNICEF’s response to the Horn of Africa malnutrition crisis

The global response to the malnutrition crisis in the Horn of Africa continues to be immense. UNICEF is one of the largest service providers in Somalia and is the world's largest single procurer of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), the nutritious peanut paste used to treat severely malnourished children. UNICEF’s strategic approach to emergency response and its strong partnerships with local governments and NGOs have helped improve the overall situation in the region. However, millions of people still need humanitarian assistance.

UNICEF's efforts focus on:

  • Prevention and treatment of severe acute malnutrition
  • Prevention and response to major child illnesses including vaccination and COVID-19 relief
  • Expansion of access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene
  • Providing livelihood opportunities that include improved food security and access to safe water
  • Providing access to assets and safety nets that are responsive to seasonal factors and external shocks

Learn how UNICEF works to address climate change and its impact on children. 

Learn how UNICEF responds to food crises globally. 

Help save children’s lives by donating. Just $55 can provide a two-month supply of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food — enough to restore the health of a severely malnourished child.