More than 20 million people across East Africa are facing an uncertain future as fears of a famine looms. 12.8 million people across Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya are in urgent need of life-saving food, water and medicines as a prolonged drought wreaks havoc on farmers and pastoralists.
Latest statistics from Somalia indicate that about 6.2 million people – half the total population – are in need of humanitarian aid and of them almost 3 million are unable to meet their daily food requirements and need assistance. Some 363,000 acutely malnourished children in East Africa need urgent nutritional support, including at least 71,000 severely malnourished children who require life-saving treatment.
During a visit to the Daynile camp for internally displaced people (IDP), situated on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Islamic Relief staff heard shocking stories of women and children having walked for days in search of food and water.
“Fatouma and her family lost their livestock because there was no water. She walked for 10 days with her children in search of food and water, finding their way to the Daynile camp. Along the way, she lost her three children – Nuratu, Gadiju and Osman – who were buried along the side of the road during that harrowing journey,” Islamic Relief UK Deputy Director, Tufail Hussein related, during his recent visit to the area.
Islamic Relief South Africa (IRSA) has launched an appeal to help people like Fatouma, who are facing the certainty of death unless they get the necessary emergency aid as a matter of urgency.
“During our field visits to conduct a needs assessment in Somaliland, our team came acorss dried up rivers and boreholes in some villages. We found animal carcasses along the road in pastoral areas,” Islamic Relief East Africa director, Yusuf Ahmed said.
“In South Sudan, our team reports that people are eating wild leaves and children are acutely malnourished…The world has a moral obligation to respond to the needs of these vulnerable people. We cannot sit by and let another 2011 famine occur which killed 260,000.”
Islamic Relief’s current response
In Somalia, The first food aid distribution took place earlier this week in the Daynile camp with 300 families receiving food packs consisting of rice, cooking oil, sugar and powdered milk. Further food aid distributions are being planned for the Caynabo IDP camp, situated 120 kilometres from Burao district.
With the demand for water increasing at alarming rates in Ethiopia, Islamic Relief continues to truck water to villages targeting 31,000 people on a weekly basis. A food distribution is currently underway targeting 1,500 beneficiaries that include pregnant and lactating mothers and children under five years of age. A schools programme is being rolled out in schools to address the nutritional and health needs of vulnerable students.
Meanwhile, in South Sudan’s Tonj North region, nine counties have been declared to be in a state of emergency and famine brought on by continual conflict. The levels of hunger and starvation are alarming and children are acutely malnourished. A nutritional programme targeting malnourished children, the elderly and pregnant women is being implemented.
Mosquito nets have already been distributed to households but a distribution programme targeting 2,000 households in Lobonok, outside Jubek state will be rolled in the next week. Four boreholes are currently being rehabilitated to ensure water accessibility to 3,000 displaced households.