The East Africa Appeal, which hopes to raise £20m, follows a drought that has put 11m people in urgent need of help. Scottish actress Daniela Nardini has urged members of the public to back the appeal, which aims to assist people in Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
An Oxfam emergency specialist said the charity had launched the appeal because the response from governments and major donors had not been as big as expected. Although other Oxfam appeals have brought in more than £20m, this is the first time the charity has appealed to the public for a request of this size. Ms Nardini, who visited Kenya with Oxfam in 2000, has called on people in Scotland to help locals in the areas she visited, and those affected throughout East Africa. "I visited Wajir and Turkana in Northern Kenya a few years ago with Oxfam," she said.
"The situation now is that although some rain has fallen, it hasn't fallen in major quantities, and the situation is rapidly getting worse," he told BBC Radio Five Live. He said one reason behind the current campaign was that the response from governments and major donors was not as big as had been expected, leaving a £350m gap.
Oxfam said the mortality rate could increase rapidly if sufficient aid is not delivered quickly. Judith Robertson, the head of Oxfam in Scotland, said: "This crisis might be getting less attention than the tsunami did, but the number of people needing help is even greater.
Oxfam is appealing for the public's help to fund emergency work such as providing food and water, but also to help fund longer-term projects so that people can rebuild their lives and avert future crises. Ms Robertson added: "This appeal isn't designed to be just a sticking plaster. We want to help people across the region to recover and be in a better position when the next crisis hits."