The Most Severe Food Crisis In The World
The drought in the eastern Horn of Africa is getting worse. More than ten million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti are in need of humanitarian assistance. This is the most severe food crisis in the world today - and there is no likelihood of improvement until 2012.
Some pastoral zones are experiencing the driest period in 60 years. High local cereal prices, increasing livestock mortality and conflict have furthermore exacerbated the impacts of the drought. For example in Mandera, Kenya, the price of maize has increased by almost 60 percent compared with last year. Not only local pastoralists are affected; but high food and fuel prices have reduced urban household's purchasing power as well.
As it is often the case, women are disproportionally affected by the current drought. In many communities, women are the last ones to eat when food is limited, after children and men. Women also usually shoulder the largest burden in collecting drinking water and now spend hours doing so, restricting their opportunities and choices, and reinforcing gender inequalities in education and employment.
In Ethiopia, for example, women in Moyale, Borena, explained to CARE that they now had to walk two hours to reach the nearest water point - instead of 15 minutes before. They queue for four to six hours, and walk back again for two hours. This has a negative impact on the whole family since women have therefore very little time for their daily household chores and can't properly take care of their children.
More than 1,000 refugees arriving per day
The Government of Kenya has declared the drought a national disaster. At 14 percent inflation is at its highest peak in two years and is likely to rise further. In the refugee camps of Daadab in northern Kenya, where almost 367,000 refugees have sought shelter, the situation is particularly grave. Thousands of Somalis are walking for weeks to reach the camp, most of them arriving acutely malnourished, dehydrated, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. There is reportedly an upsurge of sexual violence against women. More than 1,000 refugees arrive in Dadaab per day and the high influx is putting severe pressure on already limited resources in overcrowded camps. CARE is distributing food from the World Food Programme (WFP) to the refugees in Dadaab, however, without additional funding, the food aid pipeline for refugees will run dry by September.
CARE Kenya has been distributing emergency food rations of high energy biscuits to new arrivals at reception centres in the Daadab refugee settlements. The nutritional status of the newly arrived refugees is poor, so complete food aid baskets are being distributed to replace the temporary emergency response. CARE is also trucking potable water and expanding existing water supply and distribution systems to meet needs of new arrivals.
The Daadab camps are the largest refugee settlements in the world. Funding for refugees in Kenya is urgently needed, together with funding to provide emergency assistance for those affected by the current drought.
CARE's response to the food insecurity in the Horn of Africa:
CARE Ethiopia is currently responding to the drought and food insecurity emergency in the regions of Afar and Oromia (Borena, East and West Hararghe zones), which are parts of the most affected areas in the country. The on-going humanitarian interventions focus on food assistance, nutrition, water and sanitation interventions such as water point rehabilitation, distribution of water treatment chemicals and hygiene promotion. Since livestock are a crucial livelihoods asset for pastoralist communities, CARE Ethiopia is also implementing livestock intervention comprising of slaughter destocking, animal feed and support to zonal animal health authorities.
To date, CARE Ethiopia has reached more than 218,000 people through the on-going response and is currently scaling up its response to address critical needs in nutrition and livelihoods protection. CARE Ethiopia is also actively preparing for floods that are very likely to affect the Northern part of the country later this year.
Somalia (Puntland and Somaliland)
CARE has been responding to the current drought conditions in the northern regions of Puntland and Somaliland by rehabilitating water harvesting structures such as water pans, shallow wells , supporting livelihoods by implementing cash-for-work programs and cash relief to most vulnerable households in the affected areas. To date, CARE has assisted 164,000 people and plans to scale up its interventions to address water and sanitation, and support livelihoods.
However, humanitarian agencies have limited access and capacity to deliver lifesaving assistance in the worst-affected areas of Somalia - i.e. the south-central region where most of the Somalis in need are concentrated - because of insecurity and stringent donor conditions. As part of the larger humanitarian community in Somalia, CARE has been urging major donors as well as various local authorities to facilitate access to south-central Somalia to enable us to provide assistance where it's needed most.
CARE Kenya has been addressing drought conditions with emphasis on addressing long-term vulnerabilities and strengthening community resilience especially in the north-eastern parts of the country. The Country Office is emphasizing disaster risk management measures owned by the local communities. CARE Kenya supports district veterinary department teams to vaccinate animals against the expected increase in diseases and need for treatment; this is in case of disease outbreaks which may occur as a result of animals congregating at the remaining water sources. CARE Kenya is also responding through maintenance, protection and development of water resources; encouraging improved hygiene practices and infrastructure; livelihood protection and support through diversifying sources of income, cash transfer and other cash/market interventions, disaster risk reduction (DRR), mainly looking at cross border peace committees (in Kenya and Ethiopia) in Mandera East through water committees and water supervisors, and grazing management by council of elders.
CARE has partnered with a financial institution and both public and private abattoirs to increase livestock sales from the pastoral community, reducing the number of animals relying on limited pasture and enhancing available cash for households. To date, CARE has assisted 167, 000 people in Kenya's North Eastern region and plans to scale up and reach an additional 200,000 in the coming weeks.