The Horn of Africa region is faced with yet another severe drought. Famine has already been declared in South Sudan, while Somalia and regions of Kenya are on the brink of famine. ARAHA Teams have been on the ground assisting families by providing water, food, and shelter materials. According to our Program Director, “We are able to distribute food baskets and non-food items for hundreds of drought-affected families in Somalia and Kenya. However, the needs are currently far beyond the resources we have.” We still need donations in order to continue providing immediate relief and aid to victims of this disaster.
The drought that has been developing in regions of Somalia and Kenya over the last year has reached a stage of extreme concern. The second rainy season, which typically lasts from October to December, began late and ended early in 2016, leaving total rainfall amounts far below average.
“This is a new wave of severe drought. The reports we are getting from our field offices are devastating,” said Mohamed Idris, ARAHA’s Executive Director. In eastern Somalia, the ongoing drought has left families in dire need of water, food, livestock support, and shelter. Half of the local public schools have closed, market sales have fallen, and livestock herds and crops are disease-ridden or failing. Many families have been reduced to eating just one meal a day. More than a thousand families from the Sool and Sanaag areas have migrated to the west of Somaliland all the way to the Gabiley region.
Isiolo County, Kenya, faces a similar situation. Rivers and other surface water sources have dried up. Consequently, water access had decreased– pastoralists in the region are an average distance of 3-6 miles from the nearest water source—and water prices have more than tripled. The drought has caused individual water usage in Isiolo County to fall to 1.8-2.6 gallons per day, far below the recommended daily minimum of 3.9 gallons. (For reference, the average American uses 100 gallons of water per day.)
ARAHA has launched a campaign to support families that are suffering due to this drought. Teams at our Somalia and Kenya field offices are assisting families by providing water, food, and shelter materials. According to our Program Director, “We are able to distribute food baskets and non-food items for hundreds of drought-affected families in Somalia and Kenya. However, the needs are currently far beyond the resources we have.” We still need donations in order to continue providing immediate relief and aid to victims of this disaster. The Executive Director of ARAHA urged donors to think about these families and support ARAHA’s lifesaving work: “It’s a matter of life and death for these families.”
It is said to be one of the worst droughts to ever hit the Horn of Africa region, with close to 20 million people facing hunger and malnutrition–including at least 6 million children. In fact, according to many experts, it could be far worse than the drought and famine that hit the region in the mid-1980s. The unpredictable El Nino weather pattern, compounded by climate change, has led to extreme weather conditions: Regions of Sudan and Kenya have experienced floods that wiped out villages and farm land, while regions in Ethiopia and Somalia haven’t had enough rain in over three years. These conditions have hurt pastoralists, who depend on livestock for their income, as well as farmers, whose crops have been laid to waste.
In search of aid, hundreds of people are seeking refuge on foot, walking for days at a time through tough terrain and brutal weather conditions. Many die on the way, including children and pregnant or breast-feeding women.
Although it has not officially been declared, famine conditions have already been reached in certain areas of the Horn of Africa the region. Millions of people are in crisis, and are either on the brink of or already experiencing famine. As an organization, we feel compelled and obligated to respond before famine conditions are reached everywhere; we cannot and will not wait for the official declaration of famine to mobilize our aid. From our years of experience in dealing with drought and famine in the region, we have realized that, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as the saying goes. In a full-blown famine, conditions may be so bad that many families can’t even make it to the aid camps, thus it is urgent to act now and prevent some of the problems that will arise as conditions become even worse.
ARAHA’s field offices in the region are already on the ground, getting ready to bring aid to thousands of people who are in desperate need and facing this famine. We will be working hard to provide relief packages that include food baskets, nutrition packs for children, and water.