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Irish donations reach over 1M people but famine still looms in Horn of Africa


Wednesday March 8, 2023

Irish donations have reached over one million people struggling to survive a record drought in the Horn of Africa where famine remains a serious threat, according to Concern Worldwide.

The Irish humanitarian organisation warned that children continue to die from hunger and disease, but that aid is having a life-saving impact in communities they are reaching in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

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Concern helped 1.5 million people last year across the region, which is facing its sixth failed rainy season as its worst drought on record continues.

It reached 105,300 people displaced by drought and conflict so far this year in Somalia alone, including over 8,600 malnourished children, and 318,000 people in Kenya.

“We need to keep famine at bay,” warned Concern’s Regional Director Amina Abdulla, who manages a team of 800 Concern aid workers across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

“A famine declaration has been averted in parts of Somalia for now or up until the end of June, as reported recently by the UN, but this is because of a stepped-up humanitarian response and the donations the UN and NGO’s like us have received.

“However, if the response and funding does not continue then famine will once again be imminent.

“Donations are having an impact. They are saving lives; a lifeline to the children we see each day with life-threatening hunger issues.

“Five million children are right now acutely malnourished in drought-affected areas.

“The donations we get are making sure that families have at the very least the bare minimum they need to survive.”

The crisis, caused largely by changing weather patterns due to climate change, is expected to worsen this year with forecasts predicting a sixth failed rainy season over the coming weeks across the Horn of Africa.

Water sources have dried up, millions of livestock have died, crops have failed and food prices have risen dramatically, forcing vast numbers of people (over 1.1 million in Somalia alone since January 2021) to flee their homes in search of support, often in ad-hoc displacement camps near cities.

Over 22 million people face life-threatening hunger across Ethiopia (11.8 million), Kenya (5.4 million) and Somalia (4.9 million).

Concern staff have been responding by trucking tankers of clean drinking water to communities and providing cash payments to buy food and essential items.

They are operating life-saving outreach clinics where children are screened for malnutrition and supporting the critical work done in hospitals like Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu where children are treated for severe undernourishment.

The organisation’s country teams are repairing non-functioning boreholes and disinfecting them.

They are also building latrines and distributing hygiene materials such as jerry cans and soap.

Despite the drought, Concern ran some successful agriculture programmes with targeted farmers in some locations who were able to produce nutritious fodder and food, which helped reduce displacement.

Concern has also scaled up its health and hygiene awareness campaigns in communities where there have been outbreaks of water-borne diseases.

It is feared that the devastation caused by this current drought could be worse than in 2011 when a famine resulted in more than 260,000 people dying.



 





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