Sunday May 8, 2022
Humanitarian agencies on Friday jointly appealed for 39.5
million U.S. dollars to scale up humanitarian assistance in Eastern Africa as
the worst drought in 40 years looms.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
(IFRC), the Kenya Red Cross, Ethiopia Red Cross and Somali Red Crescent said
the funds will allow its volunteers and staff to assist 1.56 million people by
scaling up their emergency and recovery activities and tackling the root causes
of food insecurity.
IFRC secretary-general Jagan Chapagain who ended a three-day
visit to Kenya called for a massive scale-up of humanitarian and long-term
assistance to communities affected by the growing hunger crisis in the Horn of
"The situation is rapidly deteriorating. We need
immediate humanitarian assistance to reach the most vulnerable. We also need
long-term solutions that address the impact of climate change including
investment in resilient livelihoods," Chapagain said in a statement issued
in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.
He said Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are facing a
large-scale, climate-induced, and protracted humanitarian crisis with over 14
million people food insecure and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance
including at least 5.5 million children facing acute malnutrition.
According to IFRC, some 6.1 million people in Ethiopia and
4.1 million people in Somalia are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
In Kenya, it said, 3.5 million people are acutely food
insecure, with eastern and northern Kenya's most arid and semi-arid lands
experiencing critical drought conditions.
Chapagain said this silent disaster has been overshadowed
and to a significant extent amplified by the Ukraine crisis.
"It isn't just food and water that people need here. In
the background, there are unseen issues such as sexual and gender-based
violence, and the profound impacts on mental health. An example given was of
women walking over 40 km to reach potable water - what happens on the journey
is unthinkable," he said.
Speaking at the end of a visit to northern Kenya's Marsabit,
one of the country's areas that has been hardest hit by the effects of drought,
Chapagain said he saw firsthand the level of suffering caused by drought in
Asha Mohammed, secretary-general of the Kenya Red Cross
Society, who was also in Marsabit, said the fact that people in Marsabit have
lost over 70 percent of their livestock, which is their main source of
livelihood, means that it will be a long and slow path to recovery.
"Our teams are playing a central role in reducing the
risks that families are facing. They have provided cash assistance, food
assistance and improved water treatment practices, but the need to rehabilitate
water systems remains urgent. We call all our partners and stakeholders to
support our efforts," Mohammed said.