With severe drought threatening the lives of millions
of people in eastern Africa, urgent food assistance will be needed for an estimated 15 million people in the three countries of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya alone. It is considered the worst drought in decades.
Canadian Red Cross teams recently visited hard-hit areas to assess the situation and identify needs of the communities. Canadian Red Cross CEO Conrad Sauvé and other representatives met with the Ethiopian Red Cross Society and visited drought-affected areas
David Fogden, Canadian Red Cross disaster management delegate in Ethiopia, was one of these team members and recalls seeing people walking long distances to long lines for available water. The drought has a cascading effect on livelihoods, families and communities, he adds.
“People have to go farther and farther to fetch water,” says Fogden. “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 care for the home while parents do, to illnesses from unsafe water.”
The effects of water scarcity also takes a toll on livelihoods as livestock die and crops dry out.
“It’s a multifaceted effect,” adds Fogden. “Families that were vulnerable are now on the verge of breakdown as they find whatever way they can to survive.”
A rapid assessment has been carried out with the national Red Cross society liaising with partners to define a response to help communities. With a focus on children under five years of age, pregnant women and new mothers, plans are underway to provide supplementary feeding and safe water options, as well as to address sustainable solutions such as finding more water holes.
In South Sudan, the United Nations has already declared a famine, whereas in Somalia, malnutrition hits record high as drought persists
with more and more children suffering. As the drought worsens, crops continue to fail. Children under five are the first to suffer. Over the weekend, 110 people died
in southern Somalia from famine and diarrhea resulting from a drought, as the area braces itself for widespread shortages of food.
You can help by donating to the Africa Drought Appeal