One year later, Horn of Africa hunger crisis continues

A year after the food crisis in East Africa peaked and famine was declared in some parts of Somalia, the situation has somewhat improved — but help is still desperately needed.

By James Addis, World Vision U.S.
Published July 20, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

One year after the food crisis in the Horn of Africa peaked and famine was declared in some parts of Somalia, the region remains in dire straits.

World Vision’s response

About 13 million people suffered from severe food shortages in the Horn of Africa last year.

In response to the crisis in the Horn, World Vision provided food aid to 900,000 people, improved water supplies for 500,000, and provided general health and nutrition aid to 400,000.

We also treated almost 100,000 children for malnutrition.

World Vision continues efforts to enhance long-term food security in the Horn through improving access to water and introducing drought-resistant crops and rainwater-harvesting technologies.

East Africa still in crisis mode

Maps published by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS-NET) show that most of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya are in “stressed” or “crisis” mode.

Poor rains are blamed for much of the continuing food shortages.

Somalia remains the worst affected. Pockets of Somalia are designated as suffering an “emergency,” just one level above a “catastrophe/famine” situation.

In Ethiopia, FEWS-NET anticipates an increased need for humanitarian assistance in the coming months as a result of below-average rainfall in the northern, northeastern, and southern parts of the country.

In Kenya, acute water shortages have emerged in several eastern districts following the depletion of surface water sources. Affected households will likely be forced to forgo spending on food to purchase water.

Somalia: Instability perpetuates hunger crisis

Moderate rainfall in several regions has enhanced food production in Somalia. However, many of Somalia’s fundamental problems that led to food shortages in the first place remain unresolved. These include ongoing fighting, dysfunctional government, and an inability for humanitarian organizations to reach the most severely affected areas due to expulsion by militants.

Amanda Koech, World Vision’s communications officer for Somalia, says 2 million Somalis are displaced, often living far from their homes and unable to grow food or access markets.

Malnutrition rates remain high and continue to rise sharply in some areas. In the southern town of Dolow, where World Vision continues to operate, more than 25 percent of children are acutely malnourished.

Amanda says displaced people in Dolow are willing to return home and begin cultivating crops, but are afraid to do so while insecurity persists.

Meanwhile, World Vision pushes ahead with thriving agricultural recovery programs in the more stable region of Puntland. These have significantly reduced the impact of drought. Amanda says there needs to be greater peace and stability for similar efforts to succeed elsewhere in Somalia.

How you can help

Pray for children and families in East Africa who continue to face drought and hunger. Pray that rains will return so that conditions would improve and children would be able to grow and thrive.

Make a one-time donation to help provide life-saving food and care to hungry children and families in places like East Africa. Your gift will help us deliver interventions like emergency food aid, nutritional support, agricultural assistance, clean water, basic medical care, and more.