The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has announced details of the radio and television broadcasts to run today (Friday) to help more than 10 million people in the grip of the worst drought seen in parts of East Africa in over half a century.
 
DEC member agencies are urgently seeking to increase their work to help those at risk survive and put their lives back together. 
 
Actor Jason Isaacs will present the appeal for ITV and actor and comedian Lenny Henry will front the BBC appeal. Broadcaster and journalist Kate Adie will voice the BBC radio appeal and actress Fay Ripley will voice the commercial radio appeal. Thousands of families have been caught up in the deepening crisis, trekking for days across parched scrubland from Somalia to Kenya – including barefoot children with no food or water.
 
Jason Isaacs said today: 
 
“We are an incredibly kind and generous nation and we know the joy of giving. We wouldn’t walk past families and children suffering like this in our street and these really are our neighbours. So please give what you can. However much you can manage. Your money will make a difference”
 
Large areas of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia are affected and the DEC appeal also includes South Sudan, which celebrates its independence on Saturday July 9th 2011.  
 
More than 1,300 people a day, the majority of them children, are arriving in the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya near the border with Somalia. The Dadaab camp was already the world’s largest refugee camp with a population of 350,000 – larger than the city of Leicester.
 
With the next harvests in many areas expected to be poor there are serious concerns that the situation will spiral out of control unless action is taken now. The recent announcement by armed group El Shabab in Somalia that they will no longer restrict access by aid agencies potentially opens the door for a larger humanitarian response.
 
Disasters Emergency Committee Chief Executive Brendan Gormley said:
 
“Families including vulnerable children and the elderly have slowly seen their lives fall apart because of this devastating drought. Now is the time to galvanise our resources and try to prevent a tragedy unfolding by providing vital food, clean water and medical supplies.
 
“DEC member agencies and their partners are responding on the ground but we urgently need the public’s help to save more lives ”
 
 
Despite the enormous challenges of reaching those affected DEC agencies are already helping hundreds of thousands of people across East Africa with food, water, therapeutic feeding for malnourished children and medical treatment. The assistance delivered so far includes:
 

  • CARE Ethiopia has reached 218,000 people with aid including food, water point rehabilitation, distribution of water treatment chemicals and hygiene promotion. 
  • Plan’s work in Ethiopia includes providing food, water, shelter, medical aid, child protection, education and psychosocial care. 
  • Kenya Red Cross’ work includes emergency food assistance for children and pregnant women; providing safe drinking water and community health services, rehabilitation of bore holes, livestock, and seed distribution.  The Somali Red Crescent is operating 14 mobile health units and 30 static clinics in Somaliland and Puntland.
  • ActionAid has helped more than 220,000 people this year in Kenya and Somaliland with food, water and income generating schemes targeting pastoralist communities in the most vulnerable villages.