1 September 2011
Dangerous levels of malnutrition are increasing in Somalia and many more people are likely to become famine-stricken, according to latest assessments.
In some parts of the drought-affected country, more than 50 per cent of the population are suffering acute malnutrition. Overall, 3.7 million people need food urgently.
Five areas of central and southern Somalia were declared famine zones in July but the Famine Early Warning Systems is warning more areas could join that list over the next four to six weeks.
Drought during the April to June rainy season resulted in the lowest crop production for 17 years, with matters worsened by crop pests and diseases. This combined with ‘exorbitant’ cereal prices has put food beyond the means of most Somalis.
Access to Somalia is difficult because of its long-standing armed conflict but Tearfund partner World Concern is helping refugees coming across the Somali border into northern Kenya, providing water, sanitation and essential household items. World Concern is also supplying emergency aid to 12,000 people in neighbouring Somaliland.
Somali refugees have also been crossing into Ethiopia, with more than 76,000 arriving in the Dollo Ado area since January.
Ethiopia has at least 4.6 million people in need of food aid, with high levels of acute malnutrition in southern regions.
Tearfund partners are working to strengthen the ability of communities’ to withstand the worsening crisis, for example by running cash-for-work schemes to boost incomes.
However there are growing fears that Ethiopia will require relief aid up until the end of 2012.
In Kenya, 3.2 million people in the country’s north are suffering severe food shortages and here Tearfund partners are providing water, hygiene kits, cooking utensils and shelter materials.
Across the entire region, Tearfund partners are helping more than 93,000 people affected by the food crisis.
Robert Schofield, Tearfund’s Disaster Management Director, said, ‘The situation in East Africa continues to deteriorate and there are now more than 12 million people across the region in need.
‘We very much appreciate all the financial support for our East Africa appeal which means we can bring life-saving assistance to thousands of people affected by the drought and famine. I urge supporters to continue to pray for the relief and recovery effort across Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.’