When, on the 30th of July 2011, the UN declared famine in East Africa it represented the first time in 30 years famine had been declared by the UN. The rains failed in 2011 in Kenya and Ethiopia, and for the previous two years in Somali which lead to widespread crop failure and loss of livestock. By the time the UN declared famine it is estimated that tens of thousands of people had already died as a direct result of the famine. Over 10 million people have been affected by the drought with high numbers of people travelling to refugee camps. By the 15th of September it was estimated that more than 920,000 refugees from Somali had fled to neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia with more than 1,300 people a day arriving at the Dadaab refugee camp in Eastern Kenya. The refugee camps quickly became overcrowded causing unsanitary conditions resulting in malnutrition and a large number of deaths.
In response to this humanitarian crisis the Scottish Government made available £500,000 of emergency funding to deliver relief. The Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “As a compassionate nation, we are deeply saddened by these unfolding events. Scotland has many aid agencies working in the affected areas… [t]his funding will go directly to support these Scottish organisations and will ensure help is given swiftly and directly to those most in need”. The funding went to a total of nine charities. The charities were: Concern Worldwide, Christian Aid, SCIAF, Tearfund, Oxfam, Islamic Relief, Mary’s Meals, British Red Cross and CBM.
For further information please see the news release published on 17 July 2011.
Christian Aid: Emergency assistance to drought affected communities in Northern Kenya
Christian Aid has worked in Kenya providing humanitarian aid to areas worst affected by the drought. Areas of focus for this project included water, sanitation and hygiene; food aid and nutrition; and livestock protection. The Scottish Government supported this project by funding water trucking, provision of animal feeds, provision of cash through cash for work, and enhancing water capacity through proper storage and borehole maintenance. Christian Aid had to overcome a number of challenges including:
- Frequent conflict between armed herders completing for resources with over 100 killed in Kenya alone. There were also reports that insurgents from Al-Shabaab, an Islamist terrorist group, were hindering humanitarian operations in Somali with fears they may also disrupt aid efforts in Kenya.
- High dependency among some communities.
- Poor infrastructure meaning some roads became impassable during the rains posing difficulty accessing some sites. Poor roads also contributed to frequent mechanical breakages of water trucks.
Despite these difficulties, Christian Aid’s existing presence in Malawi along with its experienced staff and strong desire to bring aid to those most in need meant the project delivered a number of successful forms of humanitarian aid. The Scottish Government funding enabled them to provide:
- Clean drinking water, with trucking in three districts.
- Improved accessibility to water facilities, with distribution to village sites.
- Continued operation of community facilities through targeting water provision in public services such as schools.
- Improved water storage capacity, including 14 water storage tanks with a capacity of 20,000 litres established near villages.
- Enhanced livestock off-take through provisions of concentrates, veterinary access, multi-vitamins and highly nutritious feeds.
- Improved food security through cash for work and food vouchers leading to an increase in assets.
- Increased support for families meaning women no longer had to travel long distances to find water or food for livestock and men could stay and work in the community rather than travel far to obtain casual labour.
Stella, a 40 year-old married mother of 5, is a beneficiary of the project. Before the project she had to trek over 7 kilometres and queue for hours in search of water every day. As a consequence she was unable to make her husband morning tea or have breakfast with her family.
With the advent of the project, Stella said “surely Jerusalem has come to our village”. She could not hide her joy at being able to fetch water at her doorstep, prepare her family breakfast in the morning and take it with them.