East Africa Child Relief Fund

Drought Leaves an Estimated 6.5 Million Children at Risk of Hunger in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (January 27, 2016) — An estimated 6.5 million children could be at risk of starvation in the Horn of Africa as a result of back-to-back droughts in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, Save the Children is warning ahead of this weekend’s African Union (AU) meetings in Addis Ababa.

Nearly half a million children in the region are already suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

Several seasons of either failed or erratic rainfall have led to severe water shortages and the death of livestock, leaving nearly 15 million people across the three countries in urgent need of assistance.

"With the next rainy season expected to bring below-average rainfall across the region, the situation for already desperate children and families in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya will only get worse – leaving millions at risk of hunger, and even death," said John Graham, Ethiopia Country Director for Save the Children, who will be present at the AU Summit.

"As donors, political leaders and the Secretary-General of the United Nations prepare to meet in Addis Ababa, we urge them not to forget the plight of these children and families by stepping up their efforts to fund this response. The lives of millions are at stake. We must not allow many of the same past errors, that resulted in the deaths of 130,000 children under five during the last Somalia famine alone, to be repeated."

With nearly half its population (5 million people) facing severe food and water shortages, Somalia is now on the verge of a famine. Malnutrition rates across Somalia have already reached critical levels and are expected to worsen in the coming weeks. Thousands of families are on the move in search of food and water, and many are now crossing the border into Ethiopia – which is dealing with its own effects of the drought – in search of help. 77 percent of children being screened on arrival in the Dollo Ado refugee camp are showing signs of malnutrition.

In Ethiopia, the drought is forcing many children to drop out of school, leaving them at risk of early marriage and forced migration.

While the Ethiopian government worked to mitigate the effects of last year’s drought, the country is appealing for $948 million in funding – of which it has already committed more than $47 million – to help 5.6 million people in need.

In Kenya, more than 1.25 million people are in urgent need of food, with hunger levels expected to worsen over the coming months.

Save the Children is working to alleviate the effects of the drought in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, including support for refugees crossing from Somalia into Ethiopia’s Dollo Ado camp. We are providing cash transfers, food vouchers, water trucking, and mobile health clinics. We also provide nutrition, education and child protection support to families in need.

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