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Famine declared in East Africa

Famine declared in East Africa – 20 Jul 2011

Famine has been officially declared in two parts of Somalia, and many more parts of northern Kenya and Ethiopia are expected to be declared as famine areas, as the worst drought in 60 years devastates the region.

Famine is defined as a crude mortality rate of more than two people per 10,000 per day and wasting rates of above 30 per cent in children under five years old across an entire region, according to the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef).

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Donate today

Our partners in Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya are responding. Tearfund’s appeal will fund urgently needed life-saving measures, such as:

  • extra nutrition for malnourished children and pregnant women
  • animal feed to protect livestock that are so crucial to survival
  • construction of additional water points
  • emergency tanks and distribution of water for villages experiencing the worst of the drought conditions
  • food for families who currently are not reached by the World Food Programme response
  • helping communities become more resilient to future crises.

Staff from Tearfund’s local partner, World Concern are seeing malnourished children and mothers on a daily basis as they deal with the reality of the crisis that is gripping the region, which is also being fuelled by high staple food prices. In a recent assessment of Garissa County and the Liboi area which borders Somalia, World Concern reported visible signs that lack of water and food are taking a serious toll on people’s health.

Elias Kamau, Deputy Africa Director of World Concern, said, ‘Some Kenyan government programmes are providing people with food but the shortage of water is a real challenge and there is evidence of malnutrition among children was clearly visible.’

Littered with carcasses

‘The road sides are littered with carcasses of dead and dying livestock as herdsmen drive their weakened herds towards livestock markets where they are fetching next to nothing,’ said Elias.

He added that refugee camps for Somalis fleeing desperate drought conditions were ‘bursting at the seams’, with hundreds of new arrivals pouring in each day. There are three camps in the area, built to house 90,000 people, but are actually holding around 400,000.

Aid agencies recognise the need to help Somalis in their own country but insecurity has severely curtailed their ability to work there. Expected rains from March to May failed in Somalia, with the Juba region in the south being particularly badly affected by drought as a result.

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Water trucks

Most of the communities in Juba are pastoralists who rely on livestock for their livelihoods and the failure of the rains has resulted in a mass movement of people seeking help.

World Concern is looking to scale-up its operations in areas where access and security can be guaranteed.

This will take the form of improved access to clean water, food for the most vulnerable including children, mothers and the elderly, sanitation facilities and supplies of basic household items. As well as supporting World Concern, Tearfund is funding the transportation of water supplies by lorry into northern Kenya by our partner CCSMKE.

Over many years of work across Kenya and Ethiopia, Tearfund has been building the resilience of drought-prone communities to climatic shocks, for example, by supplying drought-resistant seeds to crop-growing areas and constructing covered dams to store water.

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