Almost 8 million people in need of emergency assistance/Long and short-term measures must be complementary
Geneva, May 16, 2011. CARE, a leading international humanitarian organization, calls for the international community to respond to the current and recurring food insecurity in countries in the Horn of Africa. Almost eight million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are severely affected by an ongoing drought, made worse by the La Niña phenomenon and in some cases, conflict. Short-term crisis measures and longer-term development efforts must be complementary and reinforcing, CARE urges.
“Chronic vulnerability, poverty, social injustice and climate change are all responsible for recurring food insecurity in the Horn of Africa. On top of that, a significant increase in food and fuel prices has worsened the current situation,“ says Mohamed Khaled, CARE’s Regional Emergency Coordinator for East Africa. In Kenya, for example, the price of maize, a staple food has increased over 27 percent during the last three months. “Sufficient attention is needed now to prevent further loss of lives and livelihoods. At the same time, the underlying reasons need to be tackled to break the recurring cycles that have persisted in recent years.”
Even though the region experienced a long rainy season last year, this was not sufficient to allow people to rebuild their assets and recover from the losses of the previous drought in 2008/2009. “It is very likely, that the current rainy season will be below the normal level. This can result in low crop production and reduced grazing pastures for livestock,” Khaled says. “A poor performance of the March-May rainfalls could mean that seven to ten million people in the Horn of Africa will face an acute food and nutritional insecurity until September or even longer.” Levels of severe acute malnutrition are already above the threshold for emergencies and expected to rise in the coming six months.
The drought could have various negative long-term and immediate effects such as the outbreak of diseases, especially in areas with inadequate hygiene conditions; death of livestock; conflict over resources in pastoral areas and reduced purchasing power in the affected areas and in urban centers. “Pastoralist families are taking their children out of school as they cannot afford school fees or because they have to migrate with their livestock in search of pasture. Female students are the first to be taken out of school,” mentions Khaled.
The drought situation has been declared a national disaster in Somalia and Djibouti, and the Government of Ethiopia revised their Humanitarian Requirements Document in April 2011 to reflect the growing needs and mobilize the humanitarian community’s scale up of their response. While governments of the affected countries have already started interventions, short and long-term international assistance is needed to help address critical needs but also underlying structural causes and chronic vulnerabilities. “What is needed is a set of interventions which strengthens people’s own resilience capacity and coping mechanisms to survive such severe conditions while at the same time responds to their current humanitarian needs and protects their livelihoods. It is crucial that people can feed themselves through their own means instead of being dependent on food distributions,” Khaled says.
CARE offices in the Horn of Africa are responding to the situation by providing safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation, nutrition and livelihood protection as well as livestock interventions in order to help families respond to drought conditions and mitigate the impact of food insecurity. CARE’s programs in the region focus on creating resilience of the community. In Northern Kenya, for example, activities include natural resource management, livestock marketing, as well as activities to improve community capacity in business management and marketing skills. CARE works with communities to diversify their livelihood sources and supports local groups engaged in alternative and complementary livelihood options such as milk marketing, beekeeping and fodder production.
In Geneva: Sandra Bulling, Communications Officer, Mobile: +41 79 205 69 51
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About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve education, health and economic opportunity.
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), which are the most affected areas in the country. The on-going humanitarian interventions focus on food aid;on water and sanitation such as water trucking, distribution of water treatment chemicals and water points rehabilitation, hygiene awareness; assistance for livestock such as animal feeding and local capacity building and awareness. To date, CARE Ethiopia has reached more than 125,000 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 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 126,000 people and plans to scale up its interventions to address water and sanitation, and support livelihoods.
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.