International Medical Corps monitors looming drought in the Horn of Africa
Millions of people across Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia are in crisis. After three years of poor or failed rains, crops and livestock have died and food prices are rising, leaving families with few options to feed themselves.
Somalia, which has also been ravaged by two decades of conflict, could face an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe if the spring rains fail. People in northern Somalia are already dying from the drought. Tragically, for many families, it is not the first time they have faced such conditions: drought and a subsequent famine hit Somalia in 2011, killing an estimated 260,000 people. Half of them were children.
Thousands of Somali families are on the move in search of food and water, with many seeking refuge in camps in Ethiopia. In the next three months, as many as 90,000 Somalis are expected to cross the border into Ethiopia in search of help. Today, eight out of ten children being screened in the refugee camps in the Ethiopian border area of Dolo Ado are malnourished. Eighty-nine percent of new arrivals into Dolo Ado are women and children.
"Half of the population in Somalia—6.2 million people—are in need of assistance," said Mohamed Abdullahi, International Medical Corps’ Country Director for Somalia. "The drought has wiped out crops and livestock and forced families to sell assets or borrow money to survive. If the response does not scale up, communities in the hardest-hit areas will slide further and further into crisis and people will die—all from causes we could have prevented."
Ethiopia and Kenya are also facing their driest period in decades as well as lost livestock and crops and rising food prices. The Government of Kenya has declared the drought a national disaster, with about 2.7 million people in need of food aid. In Ethiopia, still reeling from one of the strongest El Niño on record last year, 5.6 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Ethiopia is also hosting a large number of refugees from Somalia (245,000) and South Sudan (335,000).