Arete is the expert storytelling agency for NGOs, UN bodies and foundations, and has been working across East Africa for more than twenty years. Our talented photographers, journalists and videographers support Arete by gathering content for emergency appeals and documenting the life-saving impact of UN agencies and NGO’s; telling the stories that make a difference.

After four successive seasons without rain, communities across East Africa are facing the worst food crisis in 40 years. 

‘One person is likely to die of hunger every 36 seconds between now and the end of the year in drought-stricken East Africa as the worst-hit areas hurtle towards famine’.

  • Oxfam

The World Food Programme estimates that there are 89 million people who are acutely food insecure, and 16 million children and pregnant or lactating mothers are now malnourished.

The situation is being exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine, which has shocked the global supply chain. According to WFP – the world’s largest humanitarian agency focused on hunger and food security – 11% of the world’s grain was provided by Ukraine before the war. Crucially, 40% of the wheat that provided staples for WFP’s emergency food relief programmes came from Ukraine.

With no sign of relief for the people of East Africa, Arete has maintained a presence on the ground, collaborating with bodies like WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), who continue to work tirelessly to provide vital aid. Using our consultants’ experience and knowledge of the region, it is Arete’s mission to keep the crisis in the public eye, to ensure that as many people as possible get the help they desperately need.

In our ‘From the Photographer’ series, we showcase the important work of our consultants and give them a chance to share their thoughts and experiences around their powerful imagery.

This edition of ‘From The Photographer’ is dedicated to our work in East Africa:


Abdulkadir Videographer

“I have been a video journalist since 2008. I’ve worked for different international and national TV and other organizations. For the last 5 years I’ve been working for Arete as a freelance videographer covering humanitarian stories in Somalia

In Somalia there is severe drought caused by four consecutive years of no rain so I am now witnessing people suffer with hunger and sickness. Last April, I was capturing footage in an IDP camp and witnessed a little boy dying of disease”.

Abdulkadir produced the video above in collaboration with actor Dominic West and the World Food Programme for their emergency appeal.


Brian  – Photographer

Redempter poses for a photograph with her son at their home in Kenya. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) provides social protection measures to vulnerable families through cash transfers in partnership with Kenya’s national and local governments.
Brian / WFP / Arete

I am a photographer based in Kenya with over 5 years of experience documenting stories of impact and change. I specialise in documentary, editorial, and commercial photography.

I started in written journalism but wanted another way to tell stories, so I taught myself photography to complement my writing. Then over time, I completely switched to storytelling through images. I have worked in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and Zanzibar.”

Kamene and her daughter Zipporah harvest pigeon peas at their farm in Kenya.
Brian / WFP / Arete

“It is common in this region to experience drought and floods due to the extremes of the wet and dry seasons. I have worked during floods caused by heavy rains. I was covering Western Kenya, and the heavy rainfall caused rivers to break banks and flood the areas around. This caused the displacement of people from their homes, disease and massive disruption.

So many people lost their lives and families and had to go through a system of identifying their loved ones and reunification in cases where their loved ones were found in other parts of the region. The floods caused massive disruption and it took months to rebuild communities.”

Polina poses for a photograph in her wheelchair in Kenya.
Brian / WFP / Arete


Moustapha – Photographer

“I am a photographer and trilingual translator and have been a photographer for four years. I have worked with local and international humanitarian organizations that work in in Somalia and have worked more recently with Arete.”

Abdi eats a meal with his siblings in Somalia. FAO increases access to food, water and basic necessities and protects livelihoods for severely drought-affected communities in Somalia.
Moustapha / FAO / Arete

“Working in Somalia during the last few years of drought, I have encountered many situations that shook my heart and challenged my faith in humanity”.

Jama, a farmer, holds tomatoes and corn at his farm in Somalia.
Moustapha / Arete / FAO

“In early 2021, while on a photography assignment covering the impact of the drought in one of the IDPs on the outskirts of Mogadishu, I met a pregnant mother with 4 children and as usual I started taking photos of her and her children and all of a sudden, she burst into tears. I stopped taking photos, put the camera aside and asked her why she was crying, she said to me:

‘It has never crossed my mind to come to an IDP camp because back before the drought happened, we were wealthy people, we had many livestock, we had a farm, and we were prosperous. Our livestock have perished in this drought and the farm has been badly affected.

We have been displaced from Bakool. On our way here, my eldest son died on the road due to thirst and hunger. When we came to the IDP, the suffering and the living conditions here made me want to return to where we have come from’

To me, the story of this mother gave me more of an idea of the severity of the drought in Somalia than all the news I have read on the internet.”

A group of children smile and pose for a photograph in Somalia.
Moustapha / FAO / Arete


Isak – Photographer

Isak is a Somali photographer based in Somaliland and has worked with Arete for the last 7 years.

Farmer Mohamed and his family, settled far from home while following their livestock to pasture in Somaliland. FAO supports agropastoralists in Somaliland to strengthen their resilience through increased income from improved fodder value chains and provision of information for action.
Isak / FAO / Arete


A boy holds a lamb in Somaliland.
Isak / FAO / Arete


Mohamoud, an FAO beneficiary, poses for a photograph in Somaliland.
Isak / FAO / Arete


Ismail  – Photographer

Ismail is a photographer based in Somalia.  Having worked for Reuters and other major news organisations over the past two decades, Ismail has extensive experience in Somalia and across East Africa.

A farmer stands next to the remains of a dead cow on his farm in a drought-stricken area of Somalia. FAO helps to build the capacity of smallholder farmers across the entire value chain, focusing on production, post-harvest loss reduction and market linkages to improve food security and nutrition at the household level through collective action, aggregation, and the strengthening of cooperatives.
Ismail / FAO / Arete


(From left to right): Abdiasis Mohamed Siyaad Dahabshil, Amal Bank Manager; Farhana Carte, Chairwoman of Hiiraan Women Association; Ali Osman Husein, Deputy Chairman of Social Affairs of Beletweyne; and Nadar Tabah Maalin, Mayor of Beletweyne, admire produce from a stall at the agri-business trade fair for farmer cooperatives in Somalia.
Ismail / FAO / Arete


A boy plays in Somalia.
Ismail / FAO / Arete


East Africa is a complex and sometimes difficult region in which to operate. But the experience, expertise and resilience of our talented consultants mean that Arete can continue to work quickly and effectively, reacting to the current crisis as it rapidly evolves, and ensuring that the voices of the millions on the brink of famine are heard and that their stories told to the world.


Our award-winning journalists, photographers and content providers are eager to help you make a difference.

Contact us to find out how we can tailor our expertise to meet your needs.