This summer may go down in history as the summer when the global climate emergency got real for Britain. But while Britain works out how to cope with sweltering temperatures, there are millions of people for whom the climate crisis has already become a fight for survival.  

The current extreme droughts in East Africa and the Sahel have exacerbated the food insecurity and malnutrition crisis affecting millions of children, and yet are not having the media attention and global support needed. The 2021/2022 agricultural season in both East and West Africa experienced a shortage of rainfall, resulting in poor crop production. Both food security and livelihoods are increasingly threatened.  

The Sahel region is facing its worst food crisis in a decade, with seven million children under the age of five suffering acute malnutrition. Conflicts, drought and displacement have led to loss of livelihoods and resulted in poor food production, compounded by the region’s dependency on wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia. 

The Ukraine crisis has pushed global food prices to record levels; regions like East Africa, historically dependent on Russia and Ukraine for 90% of wheat imports, are feeling the effects particularly deeply. The crisis continues to unfold at terrifying speed.  Since the start of the year, the number of people going hungry in Somalia has doubled.  

People here in Britain know what rising food prices feel like and many British people need urgent help. But it doesn’t have to be a choice between supporting people here and supporting people abroad. 

With one week to go until the end of the appeal, the IRC is currently calling for support to its Protecting Milestones campaign to be able to carry on its work to ensure children suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition get the support they need to keep growing.  

Laura Kyrke-Smith, UK Executive Director of the International Rescue Committee, said: 

“Last week was the hottest that Britain has ever known. We must take care of ourselves but remember what we can do for others who are suffering the effects of climate change too.  

"For people like Lokiyoto, who lives in a temporary shelter in northern Kenya, the climate crisis is a question of survival for herself and her children. She fled her home when severe drought killed her livestock, and she lost her ability to earn a living. She lost two of her children to malnutrition when food became too scarce. She now walks five hours each day to get water for her surviving three children who are being supported at an International Rescue Committee nutrition clinic.  

"In East Africa and the Sahel region, where droughts are having devastating impacts on people’s livelihoods, children are already dying of hunger. The IRC’s Protecting Milestones appeal will help ensure that children in these areas are getting the emergency support they need to survive and grow." 

Notes to the editors:  

For every £1 donated to our Protecting Milestones appeal between 3 May and 3 August 2022, the UK government will contribute £1 of UK aid to fund a new programme to treat malnutrition in Nigeria, up to £2 million. A generous IRC donor will also match the original donation, meaning your gift will go three times as far. 

Your support, and the matching funds provided by the UK government, is vital to funding the IRC’s life-changing programmes around the world. The funds provided by the UK government will go to a new programme to treat malnutrition in northeast Nigeria.  

It is the compassion and generosity of our donors that make our work possible. Together, we can help children and families in crisis access urgently-needed health care, education, protection services and more. We can ensure the needs of women and children — who are disproportionately impacted by crisis and conflict — are met. We can help children living through conflict recover and reach their full potential. And we can empower people around the world to advocate for their rights and make their voices heard.