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Lifeline for 250,000 children at risk as money runs low for vital work in East Africa: Save the Children doubles emergency appeal

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Life-saving work in East Africa is at risk if more funding is not secured for 2012, Save the Children warned today. While over 2.5 million people have already been reached by the charity since July 2011, much more money is needed if they are to continue their vital work throughout the region. As the chronic effects of East Africa’s worst drought in 60 years continue to be felt, many of the 250,000 children being fed monthly by Save the Children are at risk of returning to malnutrition, the charity said.

"The worldwide public has already helped make our East Africa appeal the most successful in our 90 year history,” said Save the Children’s Chief Executive, Justin Forsyth. “But we have reached a critical moment in our response. We desperately need more funds to keep our work going and build on what we’ve achieved in the last six months. This isn’t about expanding our operations: this is about ensuring that children we’ve already helped aren’t allowed to slip backwards into extreme hunger once again."

The charity has renewed calls for donations and raised its emergency appeal for the region to £125m – double the amount it has so far raised. Its teams on the ground are currently keeping thousands of children alive – over 1.2 million reached so far – through emergency feeding, and the charity says it urgently needs the money to keep its life-saving programmes running through 2012 and help families recover so they can support themselves again.

Over the last six months, the charity has reached 2.5 million people with food, clean water and healthcare, saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of children. But the situation is still acute and a quarter of a million people face starvation this year.

“Without ongoing assistance throughout 2012, many of the children and families now receiving support – including vital food supplies, clean water and healthcare – will become dangerously vulnerable again and could fall back into extreme hunger,” said Save the Children’s Chief Executive, Justin Forsyth.

“We have reached a critical moment,” he said. “Over 2.5 million people have already benefited from Save the Children’s life-saving programmes in East Africa, but we desperately need more funds to build on what we’ve achieved in the last six months and make sure children we’ve already helped aren’t allowed to slip backwards.”

Millions of people, many of them farmers who lost all their livestock during the drought, remain dependent on the assistance of aid agencies like Save the Children. Ongoing conflict, rising food prices and severe drought have left parents unable to provide their children with the most basic needs of food and water.

As well as its emergency lifesaving work, Save the Children is also helping families throughout the region prepare for the future with agricultural tools and training and putting early-warning systems in place to help predict future droughts.

“Thanks to the generous support of our donors, millions have already been helped. But tens of thousands of children still depend on us for food every day,” said Forsyth. “2012 needs to be the year that we bring East Africa out of crisis. Without our continuing support they may not be able to survive.”

To organise interviews or photographs/multimedia content, please call Conor O'Loughlin on the Save the Children Media team: 020 3215 3342 or 07741 963333.

Notes

Save the Children launched their emergency appeal for East Africa in July, 2011. With the generous support of donors, in that time the organisation has provided:

  • Nutrition support to 430,057 people including 293,000 children through a massive blanket supplementary feeding programme for children under five, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers in East Africa.
  • Health care support for 263,000 people including 140,500 children through static health facilities and mobile outreach clinics travelling deep into arid areas, reaching the most vulnerable nomadic communities.
  • Established 11 Stabilisation Centres to treat critically malnourished children in the region, as well as provision of necessary equipment, medicines and other supplies to clinics.
  • Provided improved water, sanitation and hygiene services to 740,000 people. This included delivery of clean drinking water through trucks to refugee populations and remote pastoral communities, as well as installing sanitation facilities and latrines in tent camps, health facilities, schools and child friendly spaces.