accessibility & help

Rains bring hope in east Africa, but Red Cross support remains vital

22 November 2011

Animals drink in KenyaEfforts to improve access to food and reduce deaths in the Horn of Africa are beginning to pay off. In Somalia, the areas of Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle are no longer in a state of famine.

However, the famine continues in areas of Middle Shabelle and among displaced people in Afgoye and Mogadishu. Around 250,000 people continue to be at risk of imminent starvation and it is likely that more areas of the country will return to famine without continued support.

The early onset of the seasonal rains is expected to improve food security in some parts of the region, with better conditions for crop growth and for grazing animals. However, rains can disrupt the delivery of aid. In eastern areas of the Horn of Africa, the rains also bring with them an increased risk of disease for families already weakened by malnutrition. Ongoing conflict in the region has added to the challenges faced by both farmers and aid agencies.

Addressing the problem and its cause

Barry Armstrong, British Red Cross disaster response manager, said: "It is reassuring to see the positive impact of humanitarian aid in some of the more difficult to reach areas of Somalia. The financial support the British Red Cross has received has been used to reach these people with food aid and nutritional supplements. Though this is welcome news, we need to sustain this effort as many people remain at risk in this crisis.”

The Red Cross is working across east Africa, both to provide immediate relief and increase communities’ resilience to future disasters. The Somalia Red Crescent is rehabilitating water sources, scaling up mobile clinics and distributing food to schools and pregnant and lactating women. It has also been distributing tarpaulins, jerry cans, buckets, kitchen sets, hygiene kits, mosquito nets and blankets. The British Red Cross has funded 2,500 hygiene kits and 1,500 kitchen sets, to be delivered in Somalia.

 The Kenya Red Cross has been carrying out school feeding programmes, rehabilitation of boreholes, and general food distribution. It has also been helping communities and schools improve their food security through greenhouse farming.

Despite insecurity in the area, the Kenya Red Cross is providing healthcare, nutrition and promoting hygiene in two camps in the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya, where hundreds of thousands of people – mainly from Somalia – are living. The British Red Cross has given over £345,000 to support the Kenya Red Cross’ work in the camp.

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