The U.S. government has provided nearly $1 billion in emergency food security assistance to countries in Africa suffering from extreme hunger and malnutrition.
That is part of the $2.76 billion in U.S. funding that President Biden announced in June to address global food insecurity. The remaining funds are expected to be provided by year’s end to countries worldwide.
Climate change, conflict and COVID-19 are the leading causes of the global food crisis, especially in Africa. Worldwide, 49 million (PDF, 3.3MB) are facing famine or near famine conditions, an all-time high, according to the United Nations’ World Food Programme.
“Today, we are in a global food crisis,” Samantha Power, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the lead U.S. government agency for distributing the funds, said July 18. To help avert a global food catastrophe, the U.S. government is providing aid “to those in the most dire conditions,” she said.
Here is an overview of some African countries receiving USAID emergency food security assistance as part of the president’s plan. These countries also receive other U.S. humanitarian assistance.
USAID funding of $488 million will help meet urgent needs for 4.8 million people across Ethiopia, including 1.6 million malnourished children in health facilities.
“No child should die from malnutrition when we have the tools to stop it,” Power said. “It’s that simple.”
People living in eastern and southern Ethiopia are struggling with the effects of four straight drought seasons. An estimated 650,000 children are unable to attend school because the drought forced the closure of 2,000 schools for lack of water.
Armed conflict in Ethiopia also limits access to food and has forced many to leave their homes in search of food, shelter and security.
An unprecedented drought has pushed more than 4 million people to the edge of starvation and caused farmers in Kenya to lose 70% of their crops, USAID said.
In July, the U.S. provided $235 million that will allow USAID partners to meet urgent needs for more than 1.1 million people across Kenya.
Kenyans will get access to sorghum, peas and vegetable oil in areas where markets are not operating. Nutritional supplements will be available for malnourished children and women at mobile clinics.
“The food security crisis in the Horn of Africa is on the brink of becoming a catastrophe,” Power said on July 25 after visiting Kenya and Somalia.
More than $461 million in USAID assistance will help people in Somalia who are suffering from the country’s worst drought on record and looming famine.
The drought affects an estimated 7 million Somalis, including 1.4 million children who face acute malnutrition.
The assistance will provide urgent food supplies, lifesaving nutrition for malnourished children, safe drinking water and health care. The aid will also help local farmers purchase equipment and seeds.
Conflict, severe drought, flooding and rising food costs contribute to food shortages in South Sudan.
Armed groups and warring parties in the country prevent the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during the U.N. Security Council meeting on Food Insecurity and Conflict in May.
Up to 7 million people are expected to face crisis levels of food insecurity there this year, he said.
USAID announced $106 million in food assistance August 4 for South Sudan.
Other African countries that have received emergency food assistance include Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique — which the U.S. Feed the Future global initiative recently added as target countries — and Uganda, where the U.S. government is working with partners to feed refugees displaced from neighboring countries.
“We see the suffering and we know we can do something about it,” Blinken said during the Uniting for Global Food Security conference in Berlin in June.