Now that figure is 13 million: more than the whole population of Belgium.
Two million children under five years old are malnourished, according to the United Nations and at least 30,000 are dead.
The crisis triggered by drought, soaring food prices and fighting is getting worse.
In Somalia, where a child is said to be dying every six minutes, three new areas were declared famine zones last week. Refugee camps are full to bursting, crime is rising, and militants are stopping food aid getting through to those who need it most - women and children. And aid talks by the African Union scheduled for Tuesday were put on hold for a fortnight because the heads of state said they needed longer than two weeks’ notice to attend.
In Kenya, which now has half a million refugees and its own growing food crisis food, the number going hungry, 3.7 million, is not far behind that in Somalia.
Starving refugees from Somalia are streaming into the Dadaab refugee camp, near the border with Kenya, where the number of people is on track to reach half a million by the end of the year. Crime there is soaring and police say armed bandits are attacking people for the little food they have.
But many of the starving are too weak to make it to refugee camps such as Dadaab, with mothers and children dying by the roadside every day. In Liboi, near the Somali border, aid agencies have set up emergency feeding and treatment. "People are in pretty bad shape when they arrive in Liboi,” said Chris Tidey from the United Nations Children’s Fund. “Those that stop are the ones without the strength to keep going. If they didn't get help there they wouldn't make it all the way," he told The Independent on Sunday.
Some of those who do make it to refugee camps die soon after they get there. On Friday there were 10 newly dug children's graves at Ifo camp, one of the biggest in Dadaab.
Britain has so far donated £42m for the victims, aid agencies have said, after The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launched an appeal. But violence is hampering efforts to get it through. Aid can’t get to more than two million in the worst-hit parts of Southern Somalia because Al-Shabaab fighters have blocked most agencies, says the World Food Programme.