In Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, relief efforts intensify

Updated: With a historic drought driving a food crisis and famine that continues to threaten lives, World Vision continues its response in devastated areas of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Below is an update on our relief efforts.

Edited by Rachael Boyer, World Vision U.S.
Published October 20, 2011 at 12:00am PDT

It’s a daunting figure: According to the United Nations, more than 13.3 million people are in need of humanitarian aid in the drought-ravaged Horn of Africa. The year 2010-2011 is predicted to be among the driest on record in 60 years.

In project areas where World Vision already works in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, more than 2.5 million people are affected. It is our plan to reach all of them with some form of assistance. We’re also reaching an additional 400,000 people in need of food aid in Tanzania.

With the support of generous donors, we are helping to save lives and sustain livelihoods through interventions, such as:

  • Distributing therapeutic food, in partnership with the World Food Program, especially for children and women
  • Improving water and sanitation by trucking in water, rehabilitating wells, and providing water storage tanks
  • Providing assistance for refugees and displaced families in camps
  • Supporting agriculture by providing seeds and food for livestock
  • Promoting practices to make land more drought-resistant


Kenya: What we’ve done so far

In the Dadabb refugee camp in Kenya — the largest such camp in the world — are tents provided by ShelterBox. World Vision coordinated the distribution and assembly of the temporary shelters.

The irony of drought is that when the rain finally does arrive, the parched earth often can’t absorb water quickly enough. This is exactly what has been happening in Kenya’s Turkana region, with the resulting floods hampering ongoing relief efforts.

However, World Vision is committed to providing short-term relief and long-term recovery. In addition to the general interventions mentioned above, our efforts in Kenya so far include:

  • Providing kits with items like blankets, mosquito nets, cooking pots, and more to refugees and displaced families
  • Partnering with ShelterBox to construct thousands of short-term shelters and tents
  • Helping build resilience though projects like water storage systems, planting trees, and setting up irrigation systems


Somalia: Specifics and prayer requests

In the Dadabb refugee camp in Kenya are tents provided by ShelterBox. World Vision coordinated the distribution and assembly of the temporary shelters.The UN has officially declared famine in five regions of Somalia, where lack of rain and soaring food prices have resulted in dangerously high malnutrition rates, especially among young children. Nearly 30,000 Somali children have already died from hunger-related causes.

World Vision has worked in Somalia since 1992, but in 2010, armed groups demanded that most aid organizations leave the south-central area of the country. Frustratingly, even now, we are only able to work in the Somaliland and Puntland regions — not in the epicenter of the famine, due to lack of security for aid workers.

Please join us in prayer that the situation will change, and that World Vision and other organizations will be granted safe access to bring life-saving food and care to the children and families who are in such dire need. Without improved access, as many as 750,000 Somalis may die in the next few months.

Kits with non-food items are distributed to families who arrive at refugee camps, often with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Kits contain things like blankets, a bucket, a cooking pot, and a mosquito net.

In the areas where we are able to work in Somalia, we are intervening through cash-for-work programs, restoring water catchments, and constructing new boreholes. Meanwhile, nearly 700,000 Somalis have fled to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, where we are providing assistance.

Ethiopia: Initial 90-day response

A recent outbreak of measles at a refugee camp in Dollo Ado (near the Somali border) is increasing child mortality rates as tiny, malnourished immune systems struggle to cope with cramped living conditions. In Ethiopia, we are responding with:

  • Emergency food
  • Seeds for vegetables and other crops
  • Non-food items such as blankets, mattresses, and utensils
  • Training for local staff and community members in bee-keeping
  • Commodity management training to staff

U.S. response

When addressing a famine of this magnitude, aid agencies like World Vision must work in partnership with governments in order to save as many lives as possible. The United States provides 53 percent of the global relief aid to this region. While this aid is part of a budget item that makes up just 1.4 percent of the entire federal budget, it is extremely effective and positions the United States as a leader in international aid.

To help raise awareness of the famine among the American public, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) recently launched the FWD Campaign in coordination with World Vision and other leading NGOs. The goal of the campaign — which stands for “famine, war, and drought” — is to highlight the three major issues at the center of this urgent crisis, and provide tools for people to take action and spread the word.

The U.S. government recognizes that churches and other faith communities in the United States are responding in a major way.

“People of faith are often at the vanguard of responding to major humanitarian crises, and the present crisis in the Horn of Africa is no exception,” says Zeenat Rahman, acting director of USAID’s Center for Faith Based and Community Initiatives (CFBCI). “The faith community can bridge the critical gap in raising awareness by ensuring that the issue remains front and center in the hearts and minds of the American people.”

Learn more

Read the stories of Fadija and Gaalo — two mothers who are struggling to survive with their children in the midst of drought and famine in Somalia.

Read the latest updates on the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, as well as our response.

Pastors: Get your church involved in responding to the food crisis in the Horn of Africa. Check out our resources — such as bulletin inserts, prayer points, social media banners, and more — and equip your congregation to respond with compassion to this emergency.

Four ways you can help

World Vision thanks everyone who has offered support in responding to the drought, food crisis, and famine in the Horn of Africa. Donations and prayers are both greatly appreciated. You can also help by sharing information about this humanitarian emergency with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.

Please pray specifically for aid organizations like World Vision to reach those who are suffering most — particularly in presently inaccessible areas of Somalia, where famine has been declared in multiple regions. Pray also for rain to come to this parched region of Africa, and for relief to come to families who are struggling just to survive.

Make a one-time gift to our Horn of Africa Food Crisis Fund. Your donation will multiply five times to help provide emergency food, healthcare, and other critical assistance to this suffering part of the world.

Speak out. Urge our legislators to prioritize the needs of those suffering from hunger.