Horn of Africa Malnutrition Crisis

We can save children’s lives but there’s no time to waste. Kids in the Horn of Arica urgently need your help.


What’s happening in the Horn of Africa?

People often ask what the climate crisis is going to look like? Well, it’s already happening in the Horn of Africa. Every single minute, of every hour, of every day, a child in the region is admitted for life-threatening, severe acute malnutrition. There’s no time to waste.

Your donation, coupled with our know-how and supplies will bring a proven solutions to this heart-breaking situation.

Amazing UNICEF donors enable us to provide 75-80% of the world’s supply of life-saving therapeutic food used to treat malnutrition. These relatively cheap packets of concentrated goodness can bring a malnourished child back to health in just 6-8 weeks.

Therapeutic food is a truly life-saving innovation that can save kids like 12 month old, Salman Issak.


Maroogo Aden, and her malnourished child Salman Issak who is 12 months old.

  • $37 can provide 60 packets of therapeutic food. Enough for 3 weeks of life-saving treatment.

  • $74 can provide 120 packets of therapeutic food. Enough for 6 weeks of life-saving treatment.

  • $148 can provide 240 packets of therapeutic food. Enough to provide 6 weeks of life-saving treatment to two malnourished kids.

We urgently need your help to scale up our response and reach more kids in the Horn of Africa and avert a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe. They desperately need life-saving therapeutic food, clean water and medicines to survive. Please donate now.

What’s causing the Hunger Crisis?  

The emergency in the Horn of Africa isn’t making headlines, but the scale of this threat should be ringing alarm bells everywhere. Children like Nor don’t just need our attention, they need our help.


18-month-old Nor Hussein Deyrow gets his upper arm circumference measured with a MUAC (Mid-upper arm circumference) tape.

It doesn't take much to imagine the impact of years of low rainfall, relentless drought conditions and skyrocketing food is having on children. Add to that a simmering conflict and you've got 20 million children pushed to the brink of starvation.

Many of these kids desperately need treatment for severe acute malnutrition (or severe ‘wasting’). Without urgent intervention, these children are at risk of death. We need your support now; the window to avert disaster is closing rapidly. No matter how big or small, every donation matters.

Hear from Khadijo Mohamed, a mother who tells us what it's been like for her and her family living in Somalia right now.

What’s UNICEF doing to avoid famine?    

With nutrition programmes in 130 countries, we know a thing or two about treating malnourished children. We work around the clock delivering life-saving therapeutic food and emergency supplies, anywhere in the world in under 48 hours. Wherever children need them, whatever it takes, no matter what. It’s not too late to prevent a catastrophe in Somalia. Our strategic plan involves:

  • Scaling up stocks of therapeutic foods to treat and prevent malnutrition at health and nutrition centres across the country.

  • Distributing medicines to treat common illnesses that exacerbate malnutrition.

  • Increasing emergency trucking for clean drinking water while continuing to build long-term systems for access.

  • Conducting immunisation campaigns and nutrition evaluations of children in the displacement camps.

  • Rolling out a new Education in Emergencies programme to provide children a space to learn.

With so many children at risk – if you can, please help us save one life. Your donation will help UNICEF reach more children in desperate need - providing them with life-saving therapeutic food, safe drinking water and medicines. Together we can continue to make a real difference for kids in the Horn of Africa.

Last updated: 21st March, 2023.


UNICEF’s response so far 

In 2020, we treated 5 million children suffering severe malnutrition with cost-effective, ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) that is proven to save lives. But the COVID-19 pandemic and armed conflicts are driving up the price of RUTF, which will likely halt the scale-up of treatment of wasting. More funding is essential to maintain the supply of RUTF.  

In the Horn of Africa, UNICEF and partners are supporting an integrated response encompassing nutrition, safe water, sanitation and hygiene, disease prevention, and food security. 

Severe acute malnutrition (or ‘severe wasting’) is the most lethal form of undernutrition, and one of the top threats to child survival. Around 1 in 5 deaths among children under 5 are attributed to severe wasting, which is caused by a lack of nutritious food and preventable diseases such as diarrhoea, measles and malaria, which in turn compromise a child’s immunity. That’s why UNICEF takes a holistic approach to treating and preventing malnutrition. 

We’re working across the entire Horn of Africa region in this hunger crisis to provide life-saving treatments and humanitarian aid, including: 

 1. Prevention and treatment of severe acute malnutrition 

 * In Ethiopia, UNICEF delivered over 260,000 cartons of RUTF in the first half of 2022. 

2. Prevention and response to major childhood illnesses  

Every year, UNICEF reaches almost half of the world’s children with life-saving vaccines. 

* In Kenya, 750,000 people will benefit from a Yellow Fever vaccination programme.

* In Somalia, UNICEF vaccinated 432,840 children under the age of five against measles in March 2022. 

* In South Sudan, UNICEF installed equipment for 23 cold chains (CCE) to expand the capacity for COVID-19 vaccination activities. Mobile teams have also been visiting remote communities - delivering Vitamin A and deworming tablets.

3. Expanding access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. 

It’s estimated that almost 50% of cases of severe malnutrition are associated with diarrhoea, which is itself caused by the ingestion of unsafe water and poor hygiene practices. 

* UNICEF has provided over 435,000 children in Somalia with emergency water supplies through trucking and water point rehabilitation. 320,000 people have also gained access to sustainable, safe water supplies using innovations such as solar-powered water systems.


You can help us scale up our response to reach more children with life-saving therapeutic food, clean water and medicines to survive. Please donate now. 

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