Drought in the Horn of Africa & Kenya
The worst drought that East Africa has seen in 60 years is now a famine – the first in Africa in the past 30 years. Over 10 million people in the region are at risk. The drought and famine are so severe they have left parts of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya ravaged, and in a severe humanitarian crisis. Food shortages and skyrocketing food prices are contributing to the disastrous conditions.
Somalia - To escape the drought and domestic conflict, thousands of people are crossing the borders daily from Somalia into refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. The human toll is devastating. Tens of thousands have perished already. The exodus has created the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab. Intended for 90,000 people it now houses over 380,000– and growing by an estimated 1,500 people daily. Most of the new arrivals are women with severely malnourished children who are in dire need of food and medical care.
Kenya - The situation in the arid north and eastern regions has reached emergency crisis level, while marginal parts of the south-eastern and coastal regions are faced with severe food shortages, affecting close to 3.5 million people. Soaring inflation has also left large numbers of people in Kenya’s informal urban settlements unable to buy food. The most affected areas are the Samburu, Kitui, Lamu, Magadi, Turkana, Makueni, Kajiado districts and urban slum areas Kibera and Dagoretti in Nairobi, and the coastal region.
Ethiopia – More than 4.5 million people in the country are in need of food relief, mostly in the Somali, Tigray, Oromia and Amhara regions. Lack of rainfall has led to poor harvests of short-cycle crops and deterioration of livestock, which has contributed to rising malnutrition in many areas. Food insecurity and water scarcity has caused many conflicts along border areas as citizens encounter other communities in the search for greener pastures.
The impact of the drought is devastating: malnutrition, starvation, and severe cases of life-threatening water-borne and infectious diseases, – and tragically, too many lives have already been lost. AMREF is also concerned about the effects of the famine on already vulnerable populations. Children and pregnant women face life-threatening cases of diarrhea and measles. People living with HIV and TB need nutritional support if their treatment is to be effective. As people migrate to escape the famine and move away from their regular health facilities, they are likely to default on treatment for HIV and TB. Children are dropping out of school to join their parents in the search for food; girls are often the first to leave the classroom and at times enter into sexual liaisons or early marriages just to survive, reversing the gains made in reproductive health education. Overcrowding in camps further increases the risk of the spread of infectious diseases, such as cholera and TB.
International aid agencies have mobilized emergency supplies, food and water to lessen the suffering of those arriving in the refugee camps. While AMREF provides its expertise in medical outreach services to the camps, we are focusing much of our efforts on the many rural areas in Kenya, and Ethiopia that have not yet received assistance. We want our efforts to have as much impact as possible, and our assessment of the situation tells us that remote communities need support.
Read more about our current activities.