Somalia + 1 more

East Africa six months on: how we are helping

News and Press Release
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Six months on from the launch of our East Africa Food Crisis Appeal, the generosity of our donors has helped the Red Cross provide urgent relief to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable, malnourished people.

When several areas of Somalia where in a state of famine, the Red Cross provided healthcare, food, water and therapeutic feeding programmes. Through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Somali Red Crescent, British Red Cross funds were able to reach areas of Somalia off-limits to many other agencies.

By December 2011, the Red Cross in Somalia had:

  • admitted more than 20,000 malnourished children under five and 13,000 pregnant or lactating women to its outpatient therapeutic feeding centres

  • seen over 17,000 patients through its mobile health clinics

  • distributed relief items such as blankets, tarpaulins, kitchen sets, hygiene parcels, buckets, water jerry cans and mosquito nets to almost 10,000 people

  • given 1,000 ceramic water filters to displaced people, which will give them access to drinking water.

In neighbouring Kenya, the Red Cross supplied water and food. By supporting feeding programmes in schools, it also encouraged children to stay in school. Mark Lumusingu, a teacher at a participating school, explains: “Now we have food to give them, they come to school. They’re no longer scattered in the bush.”

Preventing a repeat disaster

Humanitarian efforts – together with the early onset of the seasonal rains – have helped ease the crisis, with some areas of Somalia no longer in famine. However, to prevent the cycle of food insecurity continuing, the Red Cross is helping improve communities’ resilience to future crises.

The Kenya Red Cross has been rehabilitating boreholes to help with local agriculture. It has also been helping communities and schools improve their food security through greenhouse farming.

In Somalia, the Red Cross has distributed seeds, fertiliser and irrigation pumps to help increase food production. It has also employed people in cash-for-work projects upgrading irrigation channels along the Shabelle River.

The Turkish Red Crescent is also building schools for nurses and health technicians in Somalia, to be completed after the summer. Around 1,500 students will be trained in these schools, improving the availability of healthcare in the country.

Why we still need your help

Above average rainfall in many areas of east Africa has improved conditions in some areas, but it has also caused flooding, damaged crops, and displaced people from their homes. Flooding also brings with it an increased risk of disease and difficulties getting aid to the areas which need it.

Although the situation has improved, food insecurity remains at ‘emergency’ and ‘famine’ levels across most of southern Somalia and among displaced communities in Mogadishu. Four million people throughout Somalia are still finding it hard to access food and require humanitarian assistance.

Killings over livestock, regional conflict and security issues continue to be a problem in the region, and have hampered humanitarian access to areas of Somalia.

As of today (12 January), the ICRC has temporarily suspended its distributions – intended for 1.1 million people in urgent need – after having its food and seed relief blocked in parts of central and southern Somalia. Patrick Vial, the head of the ICRC delegation for Somalia, said: "We are actively seeking the cooperation of the local authorities to restore conditions that will allow the resumption of the suspended activities as soon as possible."

In the Dadaab camp in Kenya, security concerns have meant there is now only a limited humanitarian presence. Despite this, the Kenya Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies continue to provide essential services within Dadaab.

“The last six months have been a period of acute need in the context of a chronic problem,” said Barry Armstrong, British Red Cross disaster response manager. “By taking a long-term approach and encouraging people to continue to give to our emergency appeal, we can try to make the communities we work with more resilient and help them avoid crises this severe in the future.”

“Thank you to everyone who has supported our work in east Africa over the last six months.”