BUSHFIRE and flood-affected Victorian towns are being asked to open their hearts to East Africa which is experiencing the worst food crisis of the 21st century.
Richard Young from Oxfam Australia says 12 million people are affected by malnutrition and disease in drought-stricken Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.
He is hoping for compassion from Victorian communities, as East Africa is ravaged by the driest conditions in 60 years.
Click the image for more photos from East Africa.
Faraah, 7, with her family in Kenya.
“The fact that Australians have lived through disasters like bushfires and floods makes them open to donating – they’ve been through it themselves,” he said.
“It’s made them more aware and like we saw with the bushfires, they can understand the impact isn’t just on individuals but on the community as a whole.
“It’s that community spirit which gets them through.”
Food and water shortages are killing stock.
Many people are leaving home in search of basic supplies with reports of men, women and children walking for days looking for food.
Oxfam estimates 9000 refugees per week are arriving from Somalia to the Dadaab camp in north-eastern Kenya.
Increased numbers of people are also fleeing Ethiopia.
“We’re looking at 12 million people who need help. We really need support,” said Mr Young.
Richard Young … Emergencies Manager with Oxfam Australia is hoping Victorians will dig deep and help.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd pledged $11 million in aid overnight.
“These are dark days for the Horn of Africa,” he said in a statement.
“The world cannot stand by and witness a repeat of the mistakes of the 1984 famine where delays in an international response saw a catastrophic loss of life.”
Mr Young said more than one million people perished during the 1984 famine.
Follow @FairfaxVIC on Twitter.