African famine appeal fails to draw enough donations

British donations to tackle the drought crisis affecting millions of people in the Horn of Africa have fallen far short of previous appeals.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) said £45m had been donated in the three weeks of its appeal, less than an eighth of the £396m raised after the 2004 Asian tsunami. It is also far less than the £106m raised for survivors of Haiti's earthquake and the £71m for Pakistan's flood victims in 2010.

The shortfall is particularly worrying for aid agencies because of the huge numbers affected by the drought across Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya. Around 12 million have been hit by food shortages as a result of the worst drought in the region for 60 years – more than five times the number directly affected by the natural disasters in Pakistan, Haiti and south Asia.

The DEC said the absence of strong pictures from the disaster had hurt its efforts. Last month Unicef criticised British media for failing to adequately report the famine during the hacking affair.