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Situation worsens in the Horn of Africa, our response increases

Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, July 20, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Reuters/Feisal Omar, courtesy Trust.org – AlertNet  </span>
    Somali women displaced by severe drought conditions queue to get food handouts. Photo: Reuters/Feisal Omar, courtesy Trust.org – AlertNet

Today, the United Nations officially declared a famine in parts of Somalia. What does this alarming news mean? Technically, it refers to conditions that include 30 percent acute malnutrition among the population of a specific place.

But practically, it means that an already-terrible situation is getting much worse. More than 10 million people across the Horn of Africa — including nearly three million people in Somalia — are in need of food assistance as the region suffers through its worst drought in 60 years. Simply put, millions are already malnourished and face starvation.

Our teams are on the ground in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, responding the the growing emergency in a number of ways:

  • In Somalia, we've started cash-for-work programs to help drought-affected families earn money to purchase food, water and other critical supplies they need. Prices for many goods and services have skyrocketed during the present food crisis.
  • In Ethiopia, we've distributed food and delivered clean water to more than 75,000 people, and are reaching thousands more with health consultations.
  • In Kenya, we're beginning emergency response operations in hard-hit Wajir County this week. Our work will focus on vouchers for food and water, cash-for-work programs, delivery of clean water and purification of local water supplies.

Overall, we're currently helping more than 150,000 people survive — and, with your help, we're gearing up to help even more. We're working hard in towns and villages across the region to keep people from fleeing to camps in desperation. Our goal is to help families survive this current crisis, then help them build their communities back better than before.

Famine isn't a word that any of us can take lightly; it's the worst a food crisis can get. This is a true humanitarian disaster. We need your immediate help to do even more for struggling and vulnerable families across the drought-stricken Horn of Africa.