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In many areas of East Africa, people are suffering from the effects of a three-year drought. "It started slowly. It has hardly rained, the grass hasn't sprouted. The animals first got weaker and weaker, and then began to die in large numbers: the 'big dying'" says Somaliland cattle farmer Abdullahi Hashi Yusuf (52). As a result of the climate phenomenon "El Niño", the spring of 2016 brought no rainy season to the Horn of Africa. The rainy seasons since then have brought scarcely any respite. In May and June 2018, torrential rains which struck some parts of the region further aggravated the situation of the starving people and forced them to flee.
Large parts of the rural population in East Africa have lost their livelihoods. Their animals have died, the granaries are empty. The grain prices have risen exorbitantly in the drought, and even the sowing seed has had to be eaten. Tens of thousands of families have been forced to leave home in search of food, water and grazing land. "We have nothing left to live on. Our children are hungry", says Abdullahi Yusuf. There is no sign of improvement in the foreseeable future.
With the support of Swiss Solidarity, Caritas Switzerland is providing emergency aid relief on the Horn of Africa:
In Somalia, where already a quarter of a million people died during the hunger crisis five years ago, it is extremely difficult to provide aid, due to the presence of the al-Shabab militias. Numerous regions are inaccessible.
In the autonomous region of Somaliland in the north-west of the country, Caritas helps poor and undernourished families in the rural areas. It supports the families financially so that they can buy food in the local market. It also improves the access of families with malnourished children to health care, and schools pregnant and nursing mothers in matters of hygiene and food security.
In South Sudan, people are not victims solely of drought. The defenceless civilian population also suffers from the brutal war that President Kiir and his former deputy Machar are conducting against each other. As a result of the devastating security situation, the farmers could no longer till their fields, so that in many places the local markets are no longer supplied with foodstuffs. The hopeless situation is forcing people to flee to Uganda, Ethiopia or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Caritas Switzerland is improving access to water in the south of the country and combating malnourishment. It is repairing boreholes and installing new hand pumps in six villages. Malnourished small children receive medical support and the mothers are trained in the cultivation and preparation of vitamin-rich vegetable varieties. Caritas Switzerland is also providing support for schoolchildren: In eleven schools, it is repairing and extending drinking water installations and the sanitary infrastructure, and carrying out hygiene training. At the same time, school gardens are created so the students can improve their knowledge about nutrition, and learn about organic cultivation methods and sustainable land and water use.
Ethiopia and Kenya
In Ethiopia and Kenya, since the onset of the drought crisis Caritas Switzerland has been providing emergency relief aid, helping people to recover from the drought. Farmers and herders are provided with urgently needed animal fodder and veterinary services for their animals. In addition, clean drinking water supplies are ensured, firstly by means of water treatment, secondly by the repair of damaged water systems. This includes informing the public about the correct use of water, and hygiene. People also learn to recognize environmental risks early and to plan for emergencies.