For several months now, the East African countries of Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya have been experiencing the devastating impacts of prolonged drought. Over 26 million people in the affected regions are now severely food insecure.
Trócaire, the Overseas Development Agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, has been engaged in a relief effort with fellow humanitarian agencies, funding partners and local organisations to support the most vulnerable and worst impacted.
In July, the Catholic Bishops of Ireland organised a nationwide church fundraising appeal, which coupled with other fundraising efforts, has raised €1.9 million so far to support Trócaire’s response.
Those funds, and others secured from donors such as Irish Aid and the UK government are being channelled into the provision of emergency food aid, malnutrition treatment, healthcare, livelihoods protection, and water and sanitation facilities.
Trócaire is providing humanitarian relief efforts in some of the worst affected regions of each of the four countries, and plan to deliver significant additional aid through their local partners on the ground. They are hopeful that generous donations collected from the public will rise to meet this challenge.
Combating hunger and malnutrition
In each of the four countries Trócaire is working in, children are the most vulnerable to the impacts of the drought. Tackling malnutrition is vital in their response, especially to avoid permanent damage to young children’s health.
In Kenya, Trócaire is supporting its partners in the Diocese of Lodwar in Turkana, at the epicentre of the crisis, to deliver supplementary feeding of high energy nutritional food to thousands of young children.
Trócaire has an established presence in the hard-hit Gedo region in Somalia, there they are scaling up efforts to reach as many children as they can with vital nutrition support through their health facilities there. Trócaire has also been delivering treatment to thousands of patients affected by the recent outbreaks of cholera which have claimed many lives.
Millions of people have lost everything to the drought – their crops have been destroyed, animals have died, and they have had to sell their remaining assets so they can buy food to survive.
Many livestock animals have died due to disease and shortage of pasture and water.
At the same time, due to short supply, the price of food has soared.
One of the Trócaire response strategies is to protect livelihoods, particularly by providing vaccinations, veterinary care and feed for the surviving animals of farmers in affected areas.
In the Borena and South Omo regions of Ethiopia, it is estimated that up to 50 per cent of animals have died due to the drought conditions.
At time of this report 236,722 animals owned by 85,305 individuals have received treatment and vaccination services to keep them alive and healthy to protect their owners’ livelihoods against the terrible shocks they are enduring.
In the Diocese of Meru in Kenya Trócaire has also supported the vaccination of 10,000 livestock animals.
Water and sanitation
Access to clean drinking water is extremely compromised throughout the affected regions. In Ethiopia alone, it is estimated that 10.5 million people do not have access to safe drinking water.
Trócaire is supporting over 47,000 people there with water projects, including the building of water points and boreholes. Similarly they are working to provide water and sanitation facilities, which are particular important in stopping the spread of potentially fatal diseases like cholera, in communities in South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia.
Looking to the future
The number of people affected by this terrible, under reported crisis in East Africa continues to rise. And so Trócaire must continue to do all that they can to support them, particularly the most vulnerable among them – women and children, those with disabilities and the elderly.
Trócaire is calling on national governments and international bodies not only to scale up their own efforts, but also to consider the long-term future for people living through this current crisis.
This prolonged drought period, caused by consecutive failed or limited rains, is a direct result of climate change. It is highly likely that weather patterns are now altered for good, making old ways of life and the predictably of the rains a thing of the past.
Thank you from Trócaire
Trócaire would like to thank everyone who has donated to support their humanitarian efforts in East Africa, and ask people to continue to show solidarity to the millions of people living in such precarious and difficult conditions.
Trócaire would also like to thank the government and other funders who are supporting their response in the four countries, these include Irish Aid, the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), Caritas New Zealand, and CORDAID.
You can find out more about supporting Trócaire’s work in East Africa here.