NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 28
About six and half 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 according to a new a report by Save The Children.
The report says 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 shortage 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.
In Kenya, more than 1.25 million people are in urgent need of food, with hunger levels expected to worsen over the coming months.
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 USD$948 million (Sh98 billion) in funding – of which it has already committed over USD$47 million (Sh4 billion) – to help 5.6 million people in need.
“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,” said Graham.
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