Red Cross responds to severe drought across Africa

Topics: Africa, Emergencies and Disasters Worldwide
March 10, 2017

Millions of people are being impacted by one of the worst droughts  Africa has experienced in decades. In Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya alone, tens of millions of people are in need of urgent food assistance, while the drought threatens to impact many more. Without urgent action, thousands of vulnerable people – many of them children – will die every day in countries impacted by drought and related food crises.

The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is working with partner National Societies to scale up delivery of critical aid and support to impacted countries. Not only will this support help address the immediate need to fight hunger, dehydration, and respond to related outbreaks of disease, but will also help improve community resilience to support a stronger future.

A small group of families wait for transport to take their food home.

A small group of families wait for transport to take their food home.

David Fogden, a disaster management aid worker with the Canadian Red Cross based in Ethiopia, noted that the drought has a cascading effect on families and communities. “People have to go farther and farther to fetch water,” Fogden said. “Water is scarce and the safety of the water is less and less guaranteed. It has a chain reaction of children missing school to either fetch water or to care for the home while parents do, to illness from unsafe water.”

Beyond hunger, drought threatens livelihoods. Failed crops and dead livestock can bring local economies to a halt. In Kenya, Alidema Galgalo lost 80 out of 115 animals he owned. “Even the 35 left are weak.” He said. Red Cross helps provide support to people like Alidema by providing food, cash transfers, and rehabilitating water sources.

Drought and food shortage can also cause people to become displaced, when they must leave their home in search of better food and water security. In some areas with already stretched services and resources this brings additional need to build stronger communities.

The impacts of drought are far-reaching.

The Red Cross is working to deliver aid to hard-to-reach and isolated areas to make sure people are not being left behind. Community health programs will help to respond to and treat conditions like malnutrition, as well as infectious disease outbreaks such as measles and malaria.

Livelihood assistance, such as cash transfers and water system rehabilitation help strengthen communities so they can recover from this and future disasters.

Canadians who wish to help can do so by donating to the Africa Drought Appeal