Hunger Crisis Looming in Horn of Africa if Rains Fail this Month
International community must act earlier to address increasing vulnerability.
An estimated 14 million people in the Horn of Africa are facing a food emergency just two years on from the height of the worst drought in decades, CARE International warned today. Without significant rain this month, millions of people, already left devastated and vulnerable by the 2006 emergency, risk further loss of their livelihoods and possible starvation as water and pasture rapidly diminish.
Parts of Somalia are already facing emergency and CARE staff are responding to widespread and acute shortages of food and water. In Kenya and Ethiopia, despite recent rains in places, CARE staff are reporting high levels of vulnerability with livestock dying due to lack of water and grazing, dramatic rises in the price of food and water and children dropping out of school to help find food.
“A lot depends on the next four weeks,” said Steve Wallace, CARE’s Regional Director for East and Central Africa. “Already in some areas pasture has all but disappeared and a lack of water has forced schools and health clinics to close. Without rain in the next month households that are still struggling to get back on their feet will be facing a severe food and water emergency again.”
Increases in global food prices that have priced food beyond what the poor can afford, the rapid succession of droughts as predicted by climate change experts and recent escalations of conflict in Somalia and Kenya have all contributed to the poverty and vulnerability that underpin the current precarious situation.
But, according to CARE, the aid system has also contributed by failing to tackle these underlying causes of food emergencies. This has left people in a downward spiral, becoming increasingly susceptible as they fall in and out of emergency.
“For the last two years CARE has called for urgent, radical changes to the aid system to ensure money is spent more intelligently to end the cycle of emergency” said Vanessa Rubin, CARE International UK’s Africa Hunger Advisor. “Progress has been made, but not to the necessary scale and the result is that people today are more vulnerable than ever.”
“We have a window of opportunity to prevent millions of people from losing their major source of food and income, if not their lives, to another drought. International donors must act early and make money available immediately to protect people’s livelihoods where it is still possible and prevent an emergency from taking root.”
Too often the aid community gives money late to emergencies of this nature, providing funding for the wrong things and for periods too short to truly fight emergencies. This time around, the aid community must consider the long-term nature of the crisis at the heart of its response.
In Somalia, CARE is currently providing food to 660,000 people and plans to feed 200,000 more from June. CARE needs $25 million to ensure that we can continue to get food to all of these people. In Kenya, CARE has been trucking water into the most affected areas and is working with community leaders to prevent conflict over diminishing water resources. In Ethiopia, CARE has been providing feed for livestock to protect the livelihoods of poor pastoralists, providing water storage to communities, and providing extra food to vulnerable children in response to increased levels of malnutrition.
About CARE International: CARE is one of the world’s largest aid agencies, working in nearly 70 countries to fight poverty and helping more than 55 million people every year. Our long-term programmes tackle the deep-seated causes of poverty and we are always among the first to respond when disaster strikes. We remain with communities to help them rebuild their lives long after the cameras have gone.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Amber Meikle, London, +44 207 934 9348, firstname.lastname@example.org