The 5 W's on drought and hunger in East Africa

The number of people affected by devastating drought and hunger in East Africa, also known as the Horn of Africa, has catapulted from 7 million in March to nearly 13 million now. Vulnerable children and families are subject to extreme and potentially deadly malnutrition as livestock perish, vital crops are destroyed, and diseases increase.

Informed by these disturbing statistics -- as well as reports from our field offices, international media, partner agencies, and the World Vision international partnership emergency response team -- we've compiled the following information, which answers the who, what, when, where, and why of the drought and food crisis in East Africa. Expect more posts to come concerning this crisis.

WHO is affected?
An estimated 13 million people in East Africa -- 2.7 million of whom live in World Vision's areas of operation.

  • Cattle-herders are hit hardest, due to lack of food and pastures for their animals. “Many of those who have been hit the hardest are pastoralists,” said Nicholas Wasunna, World Vision’s emergency adviser based in Kenya. “Where they used to trade two goats for food, they are now trading four goats for the same amount of food.”

  • 26 out of World Vision's 63 area development programs (ADPs) in Kenya are affected.
  • 32 out of 68 ADPs in Ethiopia are located within some of the highly affected areas.
  • More than 200,000 children directly supported by World Vision live in areas under distress.
  • In Somalia, approximately 70,000 children within World Vision's areas of operation are in need of emergency assistance.
  • Changing weather patterns now affect Tanzania, where more than 500,000 people are affected in 23 World Vision ADPs.

WHAT is the cause of the crisis?
The worst drought in over 60 years is causing a major food and hunger crisis.

WHEN is it predicted to end?
Meteorologists forecast that the region may not receive normal rains until early 2012, and scientists have described the year 2010-2011 as the driest period in the region since 1950-1951. “The international community needs to take immediate action, because this drought is likely to persist until 2012,” Wasunna said. “We have not seen the worst yet.”

WHERE exactly is this happening?
Drought is widespread across East Africa, also referred to as the Horn of Africa, including the countries of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, and now, Tanzania.

  • In Kenya, World Vision is working to increase access to safe water by rehabilitating boreholes and trucking water to vulnerable communities. We're also providing nutritious food through targeted community distributions and cash voucher systems in places where food is available at local markets.
  • In Ethiopia, World Vision is implementing a six-month emergency response to aid more than 485,000 people severely affected by the drought. They will be provided with grain, seeds, livestock, and medical support, while vulnerable children and mothers will receive supplementary food.
  • The crisis is especially dire in Somalia, where there are scarce resources in the South Central region after aid organizations were forced to leave in August of last year. Many Somalis are fleeing to Kenya to receive services in overcrowded refugee camps or stay with family, further stressing already limited resources. World Vision notes a recent announcement that aid organizations will be allowed back into Somalia's South Central region, and we will coordinate with the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations to assess the possibility of returning to the area to deliver aid.
  • In drought-affected communities in the regions of Somaliland and Puntland, World Vision is drilling boreholes and rehabilitating clean water storage facilities, as well as providing emergency feeding and cash-for-work programs.
  • Some parts of Uganda, Burundi, and the new Republic of South Sudan are also showing signs of stress from a combination of drought and increasing fuel and food prices. World Vision is closely monitoring these places as well.

WHY is World Vision responding?
With the number of people in distress and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, the situation is dire. Global acute malnutrition rates in East Africa have increased exponentially, ranging between 23 percent in Kenya, 25.5 percent in Ethiopia, and 30 percent in Somalia. These figures are far above the 15-percent threshold typically seen in emergency situations. Reports also show a sharp increase in school closures, the number of children dropping out of school, increasing separation between children and parents, and child protection challenges. The humanitarian effects of the drought and hunger crisis will have lasting impact on millions in East Africa.

HOW can you help?
World Vision is responding to this crisis through feeding programs, food distributions, agricultural training, development of irrigation systems, peacebuilding between tribes, and more.

  • Pray for those who are suffering, and pray for relief to come quickly to the most vulnerable populations.
  • Make a one-time gift to World Vision's Horn of Africa Food Crisis Fund. Any donation will multiply six times in impact to help deliver assistance to children and families in great need, or text “4AFRICA” to “20222″ to give a $10 donation
  • Sponsor a child in East Africa. Your love and support of a boy or girl in need will help provide essentials like nutritious food, clean water, medical care, and more.

    Comments

    Will you please help feed these people?

    My heart goes out to these people and thoer families. In no way anyone should suffer hunger. God has made plenty for all people of the land. God bless and help us to help them.

    We know we can trust World Vision to see that our contributions get to where they are needed most. Thank God for all those who work so hard to help these people. Truly we are showing God's love in action when we share from our wealth.

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