DEC aid agencies continue to scale up relief effort as East Africa crisis deepens

28/06/2017

In East Africa, DEC aid agencies are working around the clock to respond to the deepening crisis caused by ongoing conflict and drought. While lives are being saved, the number of those in need of humanitarian assistance is increasing due the severity of the crisis – from 22 million people across South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia three months ago when the DEC appeal launched to 23 million today. 

In particular, the number of people in need of food aid across the four countries is estimated to have grown – from 16 million people three months ago to 19.6 million people now. More funding is needed to sustain progress made so far and to help communities in need during the peak of the lean season.

Diseases such as cholera and measles are spreading fast as more and more people flee fighting, forced to live in poor overcrowded conditions. Half a million children under five are at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition and require immediate lifesaving treatment.

DEC members, 13 of the UK’s leading aid charities, were already working with vulnerable communities across all four countries at the beginning of the year and, with funds from the appeal, have scaled up their relief efforts but the rising levels of need far outstrip resources. DEC members have so far provided 250,000 people with aid such as food, water, healthcare and nutritional support and expect to reach more than 850,000 people by October, using £26 million of the appeal funds. They plan to help up to 1.5 million people over the coming year. 

Appeal total reaches £60 million three months on from launch
The DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal was launched on 15 March 2017, and the fundraising campaign ran from 15-28 March. Donations now totalling more than £60 million have been received from individuals, companies, charitable foundations and community and faith groups. £10 million of the total was donated through the UK government’s Aid Match scheme. The appeal will remain open for at least six months, with the DEC and member charities continuing to raise funds for the relief effort.

In South Sudan, hunger and ongoing fighting have displaced 3.5 million people
This has disrupted agricultural production and crippled the economy. An estimated 6 million people need humanitarian help and at least 8,000 people have contracted cholera in an outbreak that began last year. While the aid response has reduced the number of people suffering from famine in South Sudan, the overall number of people at risk of starvation in the country has increased in the last month. 

Emergency assistance being delivered in South Sudan with DEC funds includes: Red Cross providing food to 90,000 people; Tearfund providing seeds and tools for 2,640 people; and World Vision delivering clean drinking water by truck for 16,000 people. 

In Somalia, 3.2 million people cannot meet their daily food needs
Parts of the country are at risk of famine. This year alone, 38,000 cases of cholera and 8,000 of measles have been reported, with children under five being hit hardest. 

Emergency assistance being delivered in Somalia with DEC funds includes: ActionAid providing rubber sheets to store water and trucking water reaching 9,000 people; CARE International distributing food vouchers to support 3,000 people; Concern Worldwide distributing cash to help 11,000 people so that families can buy the basic items they need; and Islamic Relief providing tents and plastic sheeting for 12,000 displaced people. 

In Kenya, water shortages caused by drought are severe
This is affecting people, livestock and crops. More than 2.6 million people need urgent food assistance and 109,000 children under five suffer from severe acute malnutrition. 

Emergency assistance being delivered in Kenya with DEC funds includes: CAFOD distributing water purification sachets to help 2,000 people; Oxfam distributing cash to support 36,000 people; and Save the Children treating 95,000 malnourished children and women. 

In Ethiopia, the situation is likely to worsen
The population is still recovering from the El Nino-induced drought of 2015/16. This year’s limited spring rains, particularly in the south-eastern parts of the country, mean that the number of people now needing food assistance has increased from 5.6 million to 7.8 million in the first quarter of 2017 and is likely to worsen. 

Emergency assistance being delivered in Ethiopia with DEC funds includes: Age International distributing food vouchers to support 12,000 people; Christian Aid trucking in clean drinking water for 10,000 people; and Plan International distributing animal feed to help 6,000 farmers sustain their livestock. 

Comment from DEC Chief Executive, Saleh Saeed 
“It is deeply distressing that the crisis in East Africa is worsening, despite recent global efforts to scale up the humanitarian response. Across the region, insufficient rainfall and ongoing conflict mean millions of people are going to bed hungry. 

“Where the relief effort has scaled up, we are seeing results. Generous donations from the British public are making a huge difference to the lives of many thousands of people. DEC member charities will reach 850,000 people by October this year, delivering food parcels, clean drinking water and animal feed, and treating malnourished people.

“DEC charities have decades of experience adapting to severe and changing conditions on the ground in very difficult crises, ensuring that donations help save as many lives as possible. We can see the difference aid is making but the current need far outstrips the assistance available. Unless we can help get more food, clean water and medical assistance to those in desperate need, lives will be lost. We cannot afford to lose time – so we urge the global community to scale up its efforts and the UK public to continue to generously support the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal.”

Donations can be made at www.dec.org.uk or by calling 0370 60 60 610.

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Notes to editors:

  • Media enquiries: call Nicola Peckett or Karen Garvin on 020 7255 9111 or 07930 999 014
  • Saleh Saeed, DEC Chief Executive, is available for interviews; case studies, footage and still images are available as well as further details of DEC-funded activities in the region.
  • The DEC brings 13 leading UK aid charities together in times of crisis: ActionAid, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Oxfam GB, Plan International UK, Save the Children UK, Tearfund and World Vision UK; all collectively raising money to reach those in need quickly.
  • The UK Government has matched pound for pound £10 million donated by the public to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal through its Aid Match Fund.