Drought crisis in East Africa
Plan has launched a short-term emergency appeal for nearly USD $750,000 to help fend off the effects of a looming drought-induced food deficit in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia as the east African region faces its worst drought in more than a decade.
Experts say about 28 million people, mostly children, in the region are facing severe food shortages because of lack of rain.
Masai elders say the current drought is the worst they've seen since 1961. The country is now experiencing the fourth consecutive failed rainy season in a row. About 70 percent of the herds of cattle and goats have died in the past year, threatening the survival of entire communities who depend on them for their food and income.
Plan is appealing for USD $220,000 between now and next March to avert widespread malnutrition among children in Kilifi, Kwale, Tharaka and Machakos in the south-east and central parts of Kenya.
Plan Kenya’s Country Director, John Morris, said, “The situation is potentially serious although we hope the rains due will change the situation. In some parts of Kenya children under six have never seen rain fall. This clearly shows what a major long term challenge we face due to climate change.
“While the situation is not yet not yet critical, there is a possibility that it could worsen by April next year. Based on the results of a rapid assessment that we undertook recently, our response in the short-term will be focused on filling in gaps, for instance in seed provision, nutritional and disease surveillance and school feeding.”
Plan is appealing for USD $50,000 for emergency programs in its Lira and Tororo districts in the eastern part of the country, where food shortages caused by poor harvests due to widespread crop failures have been compounded by massive flooding.
Plan Uganda’s Program Support Manager, Jim Gibson, said, “The El Niño rains are beginning in Uganda and some parts of the country have already started to experience flooding. From the internal assessments we conducted recently children are starting to drop out of school due to food insecurity, although it varies from area to area. What is clear is that the situation is likely to go from bad to worse.”
In the interim some of the interventions by Plan Uganda will include provision of food and clean water to affected schools. Provision of early maturing and high yielding seed varieties will be considered in the medium to long-term.
USD $250,000 is being sought for Shebedino program unit in the southern part of the country where thousands of children, particularly among the under fives, are faced with starvation.
Plan Ethiopia’s Operation Manager, Dr. Issa Kipera, said, “Plan is concerned about the impact of food shortfalls on already vulnerable children. As feeding programs are begin scaled up the number of severely malnourished children receiving treatment will also increase. In Shebedino program unit alone, more than 3,000 children are in need of the therapeutic feeding.
“As an immediate measure, Plan will provide food to feeding centers and assist in training health professionals to help manage outbreaks of diarrhea and cholera.”