How El Niño is threatening livelihoods | ActionAid UK

How El Niño is threatening livelihoods

El Niño-driven drought has already left more than 34 million people hungry in Eastern and Southern Africa, and this is set to double in 2016.  

ActionAid is helping people in the countries most severely hit by El Niño. We’re giving emergency food to people in Ethiopia, Somaliland, Zimbabwe and Malawi. And we’re developing sustainable farming methods to help them fight back for the long term.

What is El Niño?

El Niño is a cyclical weather pattern that happens every few years, when the water in the Pacific Ocean near the equator gets hotter than usual, and sets off a chain of events that affect the atmosphere and weather around the world.

On top of this, climate change made 2015-2016 El Niño one of the strongest on record, with the lowest recorded October-December rainfall across parts of Southern Africa in at least 35 years. 

Millions of the world’s poorest people are set to be affected by increasing droughts, floods and other weather-related disasters that are happening more and more often. These disasters are destroying crops and killing the cattle and goats of people who are dependent on them to survive.

ActionAid’s response to El Niño

ActionAid is running emergency food programmes in El Niño-struck Ethiopia, Somaliland, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. We’re building water tanks to store water, and giving loans to women, so that they can build up their businesses and become less reliant on livestock for their living. 


Daeka, 12, lives in a drought-affected village in western Somaliland. “My family has lost over half of our sheep. Right now we only have enough food to eat one meal a day and most days we only drink half a cup of water each. There are many other children like me who have the same problem.”
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Photo: Jennifer Huxta, ActionAid

Food insecurity in Somaliland

Almost 380,000 people across Somaliland and Puntland (a region in north-eastern Somalia) have been left without enough food following extreme drought. People in Somaliland are facing massive food shortages.

To make matters worse, drought is causing rising water prices, significant loss of livestock and crippling cereal harvests, leaving many poor families in debt.

We are currently working in Somaliland to respond to the East Africa crisis - providing thousands of families who are desperately hungry with urgently needed food, water and shelter.

Donate to our East Africa Crisis Appeal

ActionAid’s emergency response in Somaliland

sacks and boxes of food

litres of water

women received loans


Page updated 13 May 2019