Children and families suffer from food crisis in East Africa

Catastrophic drought in the Horn of Africa, including the countries of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, has created a severe food crisis that is leaving children like Emuria hungry, malnourished, and on the brink of starvation.

By Abby Metty, World Vision U.S.
Published October 13, 2011 at 12:00am PDT

Deriko’s story

Young mother Deriko Nyekora, 31, holds her tiny son, Emuria, in her arms. He is weak. Though he is 15 months old, he cannot walk.

Deriko gently feeds him a package of Plumpy’Nut™, a therapeutic food product for children that World Vision distributes in her home in northwest Kenya’s Turkana district.

“Our child was malnourished,” Deriko says. “I don’t have enough food. The little food we get is not the required diet.”

World Vision targets families like Deriko and her two children for a feeding program for severely malnourished children. This means that they receive emergency food aid like Plumpy’Nut™ and a corn-soy blend mix to cook at home.

Deriko’s nomadic tribe depends on their livestock for income and food. “The animals that I depend on were driven away by [raiders],” she says.

Furthermore, severe drought in the region has made farming nearly impossible. While the tribe that lives in this area usually expects dry weather for three quarters of the year, this drought is the worst in 10 years.

She now relies on food distribution programs like World Vision’s to keep her children alive.

“I pray to the Lord to give me good health, to protect my children, to give us enough food, and [to] continue providing us daily bread,” says Deriko. “I pray continuously.”

Emuria’s story

When Emuria lost her husband and most of her livestock during a raid, she had no idea how she would provide for her children. Photo: ©2011 Abby Metty/World Vision Emuria Losekon (same first name as boy), 39, has faced similarly tragic experiences. She lost her husband and nearly all her livestock in a raid in December 2009.

“I had about 10 goats after the raid,” she says. “But [then] I lost seven goats to drought.”

She adds that after the raid, she had no idea how to feed her five children.

“I was…confused, not knowing what to do. My husband was my everything. I did not even have relatives to support me. I thought that was the end of my life and my children also. I thought my children would die of hunger.”

She moved to a larger village, where she is now part of a regular World Vision food distribution.

“This relief food has really helped me and my children,” Emuria says. “I pray to the Lord for World Vision to bring food here for my children’s suffering.”

Even though this food has helped, Emuria says it’s still not enough.

“The food that I give the children is not enough because it’s a survival strategy — not to make them more healthy, but just to keep them going. So sometimes I forgo meals.”

Four ways you can help

World Vision is responding to this crisis in the Horn of Africa through feeding programs, food distributions, agricultural training, development of irrigation systems, peacebuilding between tribes, and more. Please pray for those who are suffering, and pray for relief to come quickly to the most vulnerable populations.

Make a one-time gift to help provide Child Survival Kits. Your donation will help provide life-saving kits with basics like emergency food, rehydration salts, and medications for sick and hungry children.

Give monthly to provide support to children affected by hunger. Your monthly contribution will help us deliver assistance like food aid, agricultural training, and more.

Sponsor a child in Kenya. Your love and support of a boy or girl in need will help provide essentials like nutritious food.