Oxfam launched its largest-ever appeal last week, asking the British public to donate £20m to fund its emergency drought relief work in east Africa.
Although other Oxfam appeals have brought in more money, this is the first time the charity has asked the public for such a large amount of cash. The charity reports that eleven million people are in urgent need of assistance.
"The severity of the crisis means assistance is needed on a huge scale," said Oxfam director Barbara Stocking.
"The British public's generosity has helped pull whole regions back from the brink in the past. We now need their help to do that again."
Oxfam is working in four of the five countries affected by the crisis: Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia. The area has been hit by the worst drought for more than a decade. Nomadic herding communities are most at risk. The charity reports that more than 70 per cent of the animals on which the communities depend have already died. Recent flash floods have compounded the crisis by increasing the risk of disease and hampering relief transport.
Donations will fund not only emergency relief work such as the provision of food and water, but also longer-term projects to help rebuild lives.
Oxfam has launched the appeal through the national media. It has also targeted warm supporters by email.