International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team (ERT) has deployed to the Dolo Ado refugee camps in the Somali Region of Ethiopia, where the worst drought crisis in 60 years is creating a potential humanitarian crisis. According to the UN, the drought is forcing more than 10 million people across East Africa to rely on emergency food aid including in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, where International Medical Corps has teams on the ground providing health care services.
Caused by consecutive dry rainy seasons, the drought has inflicted wide-scale crop failure, food shortages and skyrocketing food prices in already resource-poor communities. Somalis in search of basic resources and shelter have been flooding into the Dolo Ado camps where International Medical Corps has been working since 2009. A June UNHCR nutrition survey reports that approximately 33 percent of children at two of the camps are acutely malnourished and child mortality is a great humanitarian concern in the region.
In response, International Medical Corps’ ERT is assessing needs and working with the Ethiopian government’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), the UN and partner NGOs to develop a workplan for supplementary and therapeutic feeding points throughout the camps. To combat declining sanitation and hygiene conditions that could lead to the rapid spread of communicable disease, International Medical Corps plans to construct additional latrines and bathing areas to serve the growing population as well as train community members in safe hygiene practices.
Since 2003, International Medical Corps has operated a multi-faceted program in Ethiopia to address nutrition, water/sanitation/hygiene (WASH), reproductive health and gender-based violence. The organization’s national team will continue to work with the local Ministry of Health to strengthen capacity, fill gaps and meet humanitarian needs throughout Ethiopia.
In Kenya, where the government has declared the drought a national disaster, International Medical Corps is working to expand the organization’s existing nutrition services in three areas hard-hit by the drought: Samburu, Tana River and Isiolo. As the number of Somalis in need of emergency humanitarian assistance has increased by 25 percent since mid-2010, and is expected to increase in the coming months, International Medical Corps is preparing to address nutrition and WASH needs in Central Somalia and is already addressing nutrition needs in Somaliland.