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Factsheet: UNICEF Somalia Famine

Horn of Africa Crisis - What You Need to Know
UNICEF NZ Emergency Appeal or 0800 800 194

Children are losing their lives now

A combination of drought, high food prices and conflict has led to an emergency in the Horn of Africa, with an estimated 2.3 million children already acutely malnourished and experiencing incredible suffering across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Tens of thousands of people, including many children, have already lost their lives.

Famine has been declared in some areas of Somalia and UNICEF (UN Children's Fund) is calling it a 'children's famine' because children are the ones who are the most vulnerable - across the Horn of Africa more than half a million children are severely malnourished and at risk of imminent death.

But we can save children in Africa if we act now.

UNICEF is on the ground in Africa helping to save those children already in critical condition but also implementing a range of measures to stop others from becoming malnourished and sick. This includes providing therapeutic foods, supplying clean water and sanitation systems and also immunising children against deadly diseases.

UNICEF is distributing nutrient-rich therapeutic food like Plumpy Nut to starving children at a cost of under $2 per day. Plumpy Nut is a peanut paste combined with dried skimmed milk a vitamin and mineral complex. It doesn't need to be cooked or refrigerated and helps children with severe malnutrition to get back on their feet.

So far this month, by plane, truck and ship, UNICEF has delivered 1,300 metric tons of critical supplies to some of the hardest hit areas in southern Somalia. UNICEF is the main provider of high-calorie therapeutic food, and supports over 800 nutrition centres in Somalia Plus, UNICEF is getting aid to children in hard to reach areas which other agencies don't have access to.

Malnutrition isn't just about a lack of food but a combination of other factors like inadequate health services and unsafe water and sanitation. That's why UNICEF is also providing basic health care, safe drinking water (the charity has already delivered this to over a million people in Somalia alone!) and is also launching a massive vaccination campaign for children living in the host communities around Dadaab refugee camp in Northern Kenya. The campaign will target almost 203,000 children under five. Meanwhile in Somalia, UNICEF is aiming to immunise 2.5 million children against measles.

Start Saving Lives Today

Over the coming weeks and months, UNICEF will expand as quickly as is possible to reach more children and their families but desperately needs support from New Zealanders to make this happen. Contributions from Kiwis are already saving lives. Today, we have a chance to do even more.

Big or small, your donation will make a huge difference to a starving child. This is how your money helps:

  • $19.50 provides clean water for one family
  • $27.50 vaccinates 100 children against polio
  • $52 can provide 75 sachets of life saving Therapeutic Food like Plumpy Nut (enough to feed one child for 25 days).
  • $105 can provide 30 litres of nutrient rich Therapeutic Milk
  • $530 can supply half a tonne of UNIMIX porridge to malnourished children

We urgently need more funds to reach more children. Please, help us today by donating at or calling 0800 800 194. For even in the midst of a crisis of this magnitude, affecting millions, every child's life counts.