Horn of Africa food crisis

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What we're doing

World Vision commenced a relief response in early July 2011 to address the immediate needs of vulnerable communities affected by drought.

Our goal

World Vision has a long-term ongoing presence in many of the affected areas and part of its programming looks at building community resilience to deal with adverse situations.

Countries in East Africa were struck by severe drought in 2011, affecting the lives of some 13 million people. Combined with massively inflated food prices, people’s access to food and water was jeopardised. Conflict in Somalia also affected communities’ access to food, water, health and education services. Thanks to our generous supporters for their overwhelming response to this humanitarian disaster.

Now, 18 months on in East Africa there has been significant progress.

Through the help of our generous donors affected families now have access to improved nutrition, healthcare, clean water and sanitation.

Donations helped to provide essential nutritional support and healthcare to malnourished children at clinics across the region. This short will show how generous donations helped to restore severely malnourished children like baby Muthina to health.

Communities have gained access to clean water and sanitation in the long term. The video below shows the far-reaching impact that a new water pipeline and kiosk have had on a drought-affected Kenyan community.

East Africa Appeal: 18 months on, malnutrition rates drop in Kenya

The East African Appeal

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This work has helped to save many lives and it would not have been possible without the overwhelming support of caring Australians, for which we are very thankful.

If you would like to support World Vision Australia to prepare for other emergencies around the world, please make a donation to our Disaster Ready fund.This enables World Vision to pre-stock and position life-saving supplies and ensures trained staff can be on the scene quickly when emergencies like this occur in developing countries.

East Africa drought: 18 months on, we visit a Kenyan water project

Countries in East Africa were struck by severe drought in 2011, affecting the lives of some 13 million people. Combined with massively inflated food prices, people's access to food and water was jeopardised.

Read the transcript

World Vision response

World Vision commenced a relief response in early July 2011 to address the immediate needs of vulnerable communities affected by drought.

The organisation’s development work also supports communities to cope in the short term and build greater resilience to such events. Assisted people are from within World Vision supported areas, in neighbouring communities and in refugee and displaced peoples’ camps.

World Vision's emergency work includes a variety of activities across the four countries, such as:

  • Food distributions for pregnant and lactating mothers, children, elderly and other vulnerable groups; 
  • Food-for-Work (people contribute to projects that benefit their community in exchange for food); 
  • Assessment, monitoring and treatment of malnourished children; 
  • Health checks, immunisations, maternal and child health care, mobile health clinics, health worker training;
  •  Water trucking (short term) then water borehole drilling; construction of water points and toilets; 
  • Installation of water tanks at health clinics and primary schools; 
  • Distribution of fuel efficient stoves to minimise cutting of trees for fuel; 
  • Distribution of seeds, seedlings and tools to farmers; 
  • Distribution of livestock to pastoralists, de-worming and other veterinarian support to animals;
  • Small business training for women; 
  • Distribution of relief items (mosquito nets, cooking sets, hygiene kits, tarpaulins) to 30,000 Somali refugees;
  • Training of child protection officers in communities; 
  • Peace committees and peace promotion meetings reached 100,000 people in Kenya; 
  • Establishment of Child Friendly Spaces. 

World Vision has a long-term ongoing presence in many of the affected areas and part of its programming looks at building community resilience to deal with adverse situations.

Current and Future Work

World Vision’s long-term development programs in Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania will continue to focus on disaster risk reduction and building creating greater resilience in communities.

World Vision, internationally, will continue to lobby and call on donors, the UN, governments and key stakeholders to bring about change for the most vulnerable people in East Africa.

Background information

The Horn of Africa has been repeatedly hit by drought over recent years. Poor rainfall across the region in 2010/2011, combined with massively inflated food prices, affected some 13 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia in the Horn of Africa and also in Tanzania, East Africa.

Communities in Somalia were also impacted by conflict. The number of people severely affected by drought and hunger catapulted from 7 million in March 2011 to approximately 13 million by September 2011.

World Vision CEO Tim Costello visited Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. Watch this video about the effect of years of drought as Tim speaks with a woman who'd lost six children due to drought and disease:

Tim Costello in Dadaab refugee camp | East Africa emergency 2011

World Vision CEO Tim Costlello visits a Dadaab refugee camp

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The United Nations declared ‘famine’ in 6 regions of Somalia (over a period of a few months) including the capital Moghadishu and the regions of Afgooye (outside the capital), Bakool, Bay, Middle Shabelle and Lower Shabelle.

Malnutrition rose, exceeding global emergency malnutrition rates. Many communities were forced to move away from the worst-affected areas looking for better opportunities. As families and communities travelled long distances in search of food, the risks of a disease outbreak increased.

School dropout rates also increased following the migration of households in search of water and pasture.

With low rainfall food became increasingly scarce. Crop yields were down and large numbers of livestock died. Pastoralists, poor households and children were among the most affected. In some areas cereal prices increased to nearly 2.5 times what they were on the previous year.

Consecutive droughts in recent years eroded the coping mechanisms of communities across the region. With the 2011 wet season producing as little as a fifth of the normal rainfall, the situation became what the UN’s emergency head described as “the most severe food crisis in the world today”.

World Vision has been working in East Africa for more than 40 years. Emergency programmes began in Ethiopia in 1971, with development activities following. Work in Kenya began in 1974, with the first World Vision activities beginning in Somalia in 1992.

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