International Medical Corps is deploying an Emergency Response Team (ERT) to the Somali Region of eastern Ethiopia where the worst drought crisis in 60 years has prompted a dramatic increase in the number of Somali refugees streaming across the border in search of shelter and basic resources. In addition, the organization is expanding nutrition and water/sanitation/hygiene (WASH) programs throughout East Africa, including in Somalia and Kenya, to reach communities hardest-hit by the emergency. The drought has inflicted wide-scale crop failure, food shortages and skyrocketing food prices in already resource-poor communities throughout Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Near Dolo Ado in the Somali Region, where International Medical Corps has been implementing programs since 2009, the number of refugees arriving at transit centers has rapidly increased to approximately 1,400 per day. The influx of arrivals is creating a potential humanitarian crisis in the local camps with resources and shelter stretched thin.
In response, International Medical Corps’ ERT will expand services in Boqolmayo and Melkadida camps to include supplementary and therapeutic feeding sites, sanitation and hygiene outreach and psychosocial support. As more than 40 percent of new arrivals at the camps are reportedly suffering from acute malnutrition, the organization will continue to work with the Ethiopian government’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), the UN and partner NGOs to strengthen capacity of local health staff, fill gaps and address the growing humanitarian needs. In addition, 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.
In Kenya, where International Medical Corps has worked for over a decade to implement nutrition, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis outreach and WASH programs, the organization is looking to expand nutrition services in three sites hardest-hit by the drought. Since 2003, International Medical Corps has operated a multi-faceted program in Ethiopia to address nutrition and WASH needs. The organization’s local teams will continue to work with the Ministry of Health to meet humanitarian needs throughout Ethiopia. In addition, International Medical Corps is preparing to address nutrition and WASH needs in Central Somalia and is already addressing nutrition needs in Somaliland.