In 2011 the world’s worst food crisis devastated East Africa and a staggering 12 million people in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia urgently needed humanitarian assistance. The region’s worst drought in 60 years scorched pastures and killed huge numbers of livestock.
Pastoralist families in Kenya and Ethiopia, dependent on livestock for survival, resorted to desperate measures to try to keep their animals alive. Many used food normally kept for the family to feed their dying herds, some even going so far as to take the grass off the roofs of their houses, leaving them without adequate shelter.
Children particularly suffered from a lack of food and water. In Somalia, malnutrition rates among children in some areas were a staggering 50 percent. Somalia’s food production was drastically reduced, leading to an increase in food prices of up to 300 percent in the southern regions. The drought also forced people to migrate to cities, putting additional strain on limited resources.
Concern has been operational in Somalia since 1986, in Ethiopia since 1973, and in Kenya since 2002. In 2010 and 2011 Concern attempted to prevent crises from tipping into large scale humanitarian disasters in the areas in which it worked by building the resilience of communities to drought and protecting the most vulnerable. Thanks to your generous support, Concern was able to launch emergency response programs the Horn of Africa reached 843,000 of the most vulnerable people with food, water, and vital interventions to treat and prevent disease and malnutrition.
Food: Distributed vouchers to supply 226,000 people with their monthly ration of food
Health and Nutrition: Treated 11,000 children for severe and moderate malnutrition
Water: Supplied access to clean water for 30,000 people
Livelihoods: Distributed seeds to 120,000 people to grow their own food
Livelihoods: Reached 55,000 people through seed distribution and livestock provision
Health and Nutrition: Met the nutrition needs of 52,000 women and children
Water: Trucked large supplies of clean water to drought areas for 65,000 people
WASH: Distributed water purification tablets, jerry cans, and soap to 105,200 people
Health and Nutrition: Met the nutrition needs of 35,300 of the most affected women and children
Livelihoods: Supplied animal feed and veterinary medicine to keep the livestock of 52,000 people alive
Food: Distributed food vouchers 30,000 people located in rural areas
Cash Vouchers: Provided cash vouchers to 24,000 people living in urban slums to purchase food and medicine
As we pay tribute to the one-year anniversary of the declaration of famine in Somalia, it is important to remember all those who tragically died and the thousands more who suffered and are left struggling to recover from the crisis. Concern is committed to ensuring that communities, despite little or failed rains, are protected from the worst effects of drought and given a chance to re-build their lives.
In his blog Austin Kennan, Concern’s regional director for the Horn of Africa reminds us of this valuable lesson: “If we have learned anything from the food crisis in the Horn of Africa, it is to heed to the signs that come out of the early warning systems. We must also take away that sustained investments in medium and long-term interventions that reduce communities’ vulnerability to food insecurity. This is the only way to get out of the cycle of crisis-and-response that will never be as effective at saving lives as interventions that prevent disasters from happening in the first place. It is important to remember that cyclical crises will never be solved in 12 months. Families remain vulnerable and continue to need our assistance during this crucial recovery period. We must remember the human stories behind the numbers, the needless suffering of literally millions in this region.”
“If we have learned anything from the food crisis in the Horn of Africa, it is to heed to the signs that come out of the early warning systems.”
Your Concern Works – Getu’s Story
Getu Berihun, 32 years old, lives with his wife and four-month-old son in a small village called Laydiba in Bugna, Amhara region in Ethiopia. Close to 95% of the rural population living in Bugna rely on rain-fed agriculture however, unpredictable rain patterns in the last few years and frequent pest infestations have made this area chronically food insecure.
“This program has made a big difference”
Bugna was in an area particularly affected by the 2011 drought and poor farmers like Getu were unable to grow enough food to feed his family and earn a living. Getu was selected to be part of Concern’s recovery program that trains farmers not only on new planting methods, but also new ways to harvest and store crops and manage pests. With the seeds and potato tuber provided by Concern, Getu and many other farmers in Ethiopia are now growing a wider variety of food, including potatoes, which were never grown there before.
Getu has great hopes for the future and is determined to never let the failed rains affect his in the future. He says, “This program has made a big difference and I am willing to try many different crops if I can, like tomatoes, if they are available. It’s not simple to farm here but my intention is to feed my family, so I will work hard to support them.”