Concern Worldwide steps up drought response in the Horn of Africa as conditions deteriorate – Ethiopia

Concern Worldwide is stepping up its response to provide increased support to millions of people in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya) who are facing severe famine following the worst drought in 40 years.

Additional funding has enabled the international humanitarian organization, Concern Worldwide, to accelerate its response by providing emergency food baskets, cash transfers, water and sanitation, as conditions in the region continue to deteriorate.

Since April, Concern has scaled up operations to reach 2.5 million people in the Horn of Africa, as well as Sudan and South Sudan, with a range of assistance including support for over 100,000 children through nutritional interventions.

“I was here in Kenya in 2011 – during this drought at least 260,000 people died in the Horn of Africa – and what I see now is much worse,” said Concern’s regional director for the Horn. from Africa, Amina Abdulla. “We are dealing with double the number of cases we had at the time and the number continues to increase day by day with thousands of people leaving their homes in search of food, water and care. health.”

7.7 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia and 800,000 people are displaced due to drought. For the first time since 2017, there are areas where 213,000 people face near-famine conditions. Children are dying in malnutrition centers and the number of people attending Concern clinics is increasing week by week.

Currently, half of all children (about 3.6 million) in Somalia are malnourished. The price of fuel, water and food continues to rise, leading to food insecurity, reduced purchasing power and fewer meals, all of which contribute to acute malnutrition.

In some areas, the price of the most basic food basket has soared by more than 160%. While food inflation over the past year globally has increased by an average of 9%, in Somalia the figure is 15%.

In Ethiopia, 7.2 million people need food aid and more than half of them also need access to drinking water. Nearly 2.1 million head of cattle have died, while at least 22 million head of cattle are at risk and are very weak and emaciated with little or no milk production, the main source of nutrition for children.

In pastoral areas of Kenya, more than 90% of open water sources have dried up and those that remain are expected to last only one to two months. Already 1.5 million head of cattle have died.

Malnutrition is increasing at an alarming rate in Kenya, with nearly one million children under five in need of urgent treatment. Of these, 229,000 are children suffering from severe acute malnutrition who face an immediate threat to their lives without immediate assistance.

“If we don’t step up our efforts to prevent the situation from deteriorating further, we risk losing many more children. The 300,000 children in the region who are currently at risk of dying from malnutrition must not become a statistic,” Ms. Abdulla warned.

“We need resources to meet the needs of affected communities. We thank our international partners who stepped up and provided resources for the response, but the response still remains vastly underfunded and additional support is needed.

Normally, dependence on imported cereals, mainly from Ukraine and Russia, increases in the region in the second half of the year during the lean season preceding the harvest. Given the lack of rain, the dependency is even greater this year, but rising prices and lack of availability will see many people unable to afford or have access to cereals.

This situation will be further exacerbated if the dire forecasts of missed rains during the October-December season come true, leading to a truly unprecedented situation, unseen in recent history.

“Right now, due to limited resources, we need to prioritize people facing emergency and catastrophic levels of hunger. By doing so, we risk people facing less severe but still severe levels of hunger being neglected and falling into near-starvation conditions,” Ms. Abdulla said. “To avoid this, we need more funding to enable humanitarian organizations to respond to everyone in need.”

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