Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Scale up strategies to mitigate effects of drought, says Save the Children

Save the Children has called on various stakeholders including the government to put up measures to curb climate change so as to mitigate the terrors being caused by drought.

The NGO has suggested that water sources should be increased so that they can be utilized during dry spells and especially at this time when the East African region is experiencing the worst drought ever.
According to Save the Children a total of 17.1 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are facing food insecurity and are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

Speaking to journalists at Ole Sereni Hotel in Nairobi on Wednesday, Duncan Harvey Country Director Kenya and Madagscar said, “Turkana, Marsabit and Mandera are the worst hit areas in Kenya. This is an extreme crisis that can worsen in the coming months. This is the worst drought in 25 years in Turkana.”

Save the Children CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt emphasized the severity of the drought in Northern Kenya adding that this is already threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions in this region.
“Children are as always in these situations most at risk. During my conversation with the County Government of Turkana, the governor Koli Nanok says that his county has been worst hit. 

Communities are without food and water. Death of livestock has been witnessed and families have no ways of providing for themselves,” Ms. Thorning-Schmidt remarked.

Ms. Thorning-Schmidt who is also former Prime Minister Denmark commented that NGOs have worked with the Government to assess the situation on the ground and estimated that around 350,000 Kenyan children are acutely malnourished.

“This is a particularly high number for Kenya. Those children need help and they need help now. These children we are talking about are hungry, they are only getting a meal a day at best. Some do not get any meal. This means their immunity is extremely weak making them vulnerable to diseases like diarrhea, cholera, measles and pneumonia,” she said with a sense of urgency.

Somalia drought situation

Hassan Noor Saadi CEO Save the Children Somalia confirmed that the drought being experienced on Somalian soil is on a higher scale as compared to the one in Kenya.

“There are places in Somalia where it has not rained in the past 2 years. That has led in a crisis in middle parts of Somalia. In 2011 there was a big famine in this county that caused 260,000 deaths. The country is facing a similar situation at the moment,” he noted.

Mr. Noor added that currently 6.2 million are being affected by this drought.

“Out of this figure there are 3.2 million people who are in crisis and emergency situations. 1.4 million children are suffering from malnutrition. Assistance should be provided soon to them as it is now a matter of life and death now,” he said.

He added that half of the country’s population depends on pastoralism as a means of livelihood and in the last few months around 50 per cent -90 per cent of livestock has been lost.

“Capability of this community to cope with the crisis has been taken away. The situation gets further complicated when we get into some of the conflict affected areas in particular South and Central Somalia. There are 2 million people living in those two regions and they the ones tasked with having most difficulty accessing humanitarian aid,” Mr. Noor noted.

He said that this has led to large displacements and in only 2017 almost 750,000 people have been displaced and these people have migrated to big cities like Mogadishu.

“This exposes additional challenges to humanitarian community in terms of reaching out to these people. Estimates show that almost every day 7,000 people are leaving their houses to these big cities with the hope they will get some assistance,” Mr. Noor remarked.

Saving those affected by hunger

Mr. Noor has shown optimism that there has been favourable response from donors in Somalia.

“However the situation is still critical .At this point in time we have 45,000 cases of cholera and 1,000 have died majority being children. The health system in Somalia is very poor and we can see the gains achieved from humanitarian aid decline,” he cautioned.

Mr. Harvey said that they have spent time in Turkana in the last few days talking to mothers, fathers and community leaders where the community members expressed that they have been worst hit by the effects if drought.

“This is not just another drought season expected in the Northern Arid and Semi-arid land but this is a severe event where we need to be stepping up our efforts in order to save lives of children,” he stated.

“We are very worried that if we do not scale up to these children now we will see more of them dying from diseases that could have been prevented,” Ms. Thorning-Schmidt concluded