East Africa Drought Situation Report #3

Key Developments

  • Food security remains a serious concern for Southern Ethiopia, Eastern Kenya and many parts of Somalia.
  • Many parts of East Africa experienced normal levels “short rains” between October to December. However, Eastern Kenya, Southern Ethiopia, and many parts of Somalia face the possibility of below-average “long rains” from March through May 2012. Given the prevalence of food insecurity throughout the region, contingency plans are needed to prevent further deterioration of food insecurity.
  • The security situation is improving in Dadaab camps but remains a concern. Humanitarian activities and services are resuming.
  • The number of Somali refugees to neighboring countries has surpassed 975,000 people.
  • In Kenya, harvests of maize and other cereals were below average in January 2012. If the long rain season receives below-average rainfall, yields may remain poor throughout September 2012, increasing food insecurity during the lean summer months of June – September.

By the Numbers:

Number of people in need of assistance: 9 million

Somali refugee population: >975,000

Estimated economic loss: $47 million USD

Estimated aid needed (UN): $2.78 billion USD

LWR’s fundraising target: $3 million

Summary of Situation

East Africa, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti, is facing the worst drought to affect the region in 60 years. The drought has led to widespread food shortages for millions of people. Several districts in Somalia reached famine levels in 2011, spurring refugees to seek food, water and other support in neighboring Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. More than 13.3 million people were affected by the drought, with nearly 4 million people severely affected.

The drought, which began in late 2010, has led to several failed crop cycles, the death of livestock and the loss of agricultural livelihoods. Left with few resources to provide food for themselves and their families, and displaced by ongoing conflict and fighting, people are fleeing their homelands in Somalia for camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.

In Kenya alone, camps built to hold 90,000 refugees are currently hosting more than 460,000 people. During the peak of the crisis, Dadaab was receiving 1,600 refugees per day. Many of the new arrivals walked long distances and arrive malnourished and in poor physical condition. Children were particularly affected; reports indicate that 30 to 40 percent of the children arriving to the Dadaab camps are acutely malnourished.

Farming families in Eastern Kenya also face limited access to even basic needs. Food security (availability and access to food) remains a concern, as well as nutrition. An initial assessment by LWR demonstrated farming households ate a small meal of porridge or tea at breakfast – which many did not consider a meal – and a dinner. LWR’s response (see below) aims to increase the number of meals farmers are receiving each day, in addition to improving crop yields for more long-term stability. The assessment also indicates most households in the affected area receive less than 50% of their total water needs per day, with long waits at water points which are primarily accessed by women and children.

In Ethiopia, more than 140,000 people, primarily Somali refugees, have arrived in the Dollo Ado camps. The camps were designed to host 85,000 people, and capacity continues to be a serious concern. In other parts of Ethiopia, food is becoming scarce, with both crop failures and loss of livestock causing concern about rising food prices.

LWR Responds

Lutheran World Relief is carrying out the following emergency and long-term response to the East Africa drought.

In Kenya:

Water Containers being transported at the refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya. (Photo for LWR by Jonathan Ernst)
  • LWR is working with two local partners to assist farming families on cash-for-work projects, aimed at earning immediate income while making long-term improvements to their farms, soil, water systems and other infrastructure.  The improvements are designed to reduce waits at water points, increase water conservation activities for farming and improve crop yields, making farmers more resistant to the impact of droughts in the future. To date, nearly 3,500 farmers (both men and women) have participated in Cash-for-Work programs, allowing families to better meet their food needs. Farmers have also received high-quality seeds, which should improve crop resilience against drought and ultimately provide an increased yield for the farmers.
  • With the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), LWR is providing critical assistance in the Dadaab refugee camps. Early efforts aimed to provide water to refugees outside the camps and Kenyan host communities as well as distributing locally sourced baby care supplies to new mothers and providing psycho-social support to refugees. Community leaders in host communities reported few organizations were including the host communities, and gave a special thanks to LWR / LWF. Currently, LWR is working with LWF to distribute locally sourced baby care items in Dadaab and provide psycho-social support to newly registered refugees.

In Ethiopia:

  • LWR and LWF are working to distribute food, including grains, wheat, cooking oil, beans and supplementary food for new mothers and young children.
  • LWR and partners in the ACT Alliance are working with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus – Development and Social Services Commission (EECMY-DSSC) to distribute food to 65,722 people, including local residents and refugees, with supplemental food for households with pregnant women and young children.
  • With partner, International Orthodox Christian Charities, LWR is working to deliver 25,000 Personal Care Kits. You can track progress on LWR Quilt and Kit Distribution Map.

For More Information:

Communications / Media Related questions should be directed to:

Emily Sollie
Director for Creative Services and Media Relations