"El Niño" is the world's biggest weather phenomenon, happening, on average, every two to seven years when warm water collected in the western Pacific move back eastwards, affecting rain patterns and temperatures across the world. The last major El Niño happened in 1997-98. Its weather disruptions claimed around 21,000 lives and caused at least $35 billion US worth of destruction worldwide. This year, El Niño is set to be the strongest since records began in 1950. Millions of people across the world are already suffering from lack of food and water. Acting faster to help will save more lives.

The most powerful El Niño on record caused the worst drought for decades and successive failed harvests in parts of East Africa, Southern Africa, the Pacific Islands, South East Asia and Central America. More than 60 million people are affected worldwide. In Southern Africa alone, 40 million people are in a state of food insecurity and around 18 million will require emergency food assistance.

In Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, the affected population is expected to reach nearly 14 million people during the peak of the lean season between October 2016 and March 2017.


  • 9.7  million people affected by drought
  • Currently, CARE Ethiopia’s emergency unit is implementing 10 emergency and recovery focused projects in 5 regions (Oromia, Amhara, Afar SNNP and Tigray). 
  • To date, CARE’s drought emergency response has reached 1,165,476 beneficiaries
  • Most of CARE's current projects are focused on addressing emergency needs: water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), food and nutrition, and livelihoods (particularly seed distribution and other agricultural inputs, cash for work and direct cash transfer programing)


  • Government declared national emergency
  • 6.7 million people do not have enough to eat
  • Over 307,000 people were reached through CARE's food security and nutrition programming


  • Severe drought is currently being experienced in the Southern and Central regions of the country. Agriculture, which 80 % of the population relies on for food and income, is greatly affected.
  • It is anticipated that the number of the affected people will increase to 2.3 million during the peak lean season (October 2016 to March 2017)
  • CARE has reached over 144,000 people with food assistance and water, sanitation and hygiene support


  • Over 23,000 people have been reached through CARE's food security and nutrition programming


  • Government declared national emergency
  • 3.1 million people do not have enough to eat
  • So far, over 503,000 people have been reached through CARE's cash and food assistance.

In an emergency, a quick response saves lives. 

To help us ensure we can respond right away, CARE Canada has set up the Emergency Response Fund (ERF). The ERF is not restricted to a particular emergency or country, which means we can use these funds immediately where help is needed most.



So far, CARE has provided food, water and other emergency relief to more than1.4 million people in four countries affected by El Niño.

CARE also supports vulnerable communities across the world to be better prepared for slow onset crises such as drought and sudden natural disasters, which will happen more often as a result of climate change.


Funds urgently needed, as Southern Africa enters peak of hunger crisis

Jan 10, 2017 | The worst drought in 35 years has a continuous, devastating impact on the lives of 40 million people who are in urgent need of food assistance. Read more


El Niño drought crisis in Mozambique: Women and girls at greatest risk

Aug 11, 2016 | An estimated 87,000 pregnant and lactating women affected by the current drought in Mozambique are in urgent need of nutritional assistance, warns the international humanitarian organisation CARE. Read more


Millions in southern Africa at risk unless funding is forthcoming, say humanitarian agencies

Jul 28, 2016 | Humanitarian agencies in southern Africa have called on donors to release urgently-needed funds to save the lives and sustain the livelihoods of millions of people affected by a severe El Niño-induced drought in the region. It is estimated that as many as 18 million people will require emergency assistance in the coming months and up until the next harvest in 2017. Read more 

Ethiopia drought: stories of survival

June 28, 2016 | A picturesque CARE distribution centre in Eastern Ethiopia is bustling with activity. The natural splendour of the area is in contrast with the horror families are facing in light of the current food shortage. Here are some of the stories of the women and children surviving the drought, thanks to support from CARE and Canadians. Read more