East Africa Food Crisis – Medair Responds
22 February 2017
Lausanne, 21 February 2017 – East Africa, and in particular the Horn of Africa, has been in a state of crisis for a good part of the 21st century. However, the UN’s official announcement yesterday declaring a state of famine in several areas of South Sudan underlines the extreme severity of the humanitarian situation.
Medair has been active in East Africa for the past 23 years, delivering critical and emergency health and nutrition aid to South Sudan and Somalia.
In Somalia, UN agencies are warning that half of the population, more than six million people, are facing acute food insecurity and a real risk of famine, following in the footsteps of its regional neighbour, South Sudan. Somalia was the last country to have an officially declared famine, in 2011.
Whether the emergency is due to political conflict and displacement, like in South Sudan, or to natural causes, like in Somalia (which is also impacted by displacement), the UN call for action indicates how dire the situation has become. Indeed, 42% of South Sudan’s population is suffering from food insecurity.
Consequently, responding is more important than ever, as it will secure the future of these countries’ children. Medair is actively responding to urgent nutritional needs in South Sudan and in Somalia, focusing on the most vulnerable such as children under 5 and women in rural areas where land can no longer be farmed.
In South Sudan, where conflict has displaced thousands and affected millions, Medair is fighting the newly reported famine in Leer through its nutritional response team. More than simply feeding children with Plumpy’Nut, Medair is teaching mothers about appropriate feeding practices and disease prevention, two very important foundations for a more secure future. “While the nutritional needs are still very high, our teams have successfully treated hundreds of children suffering from malnutrition. We will continue supporting the most vulnerable across the country in the weeks to come,” says Caroline Boyd, Medair’s head of the South Sudan programme.
In Somalia, where El Niño has been particularly devastating, depriving the country of rain the past two seasons, Medair is ramping up its malnutrition activities to better respond to the food security crisis. Even in some of the most fertile areas of Somalia, rivers and wells have gone dry and crops have failed, leaving little to no fodder for animals and causing food prices to soar. To enable people to stay in their rural communities rather than having to flee to urban settings, Medair is working through NGO partners and trained community volunteers: "Although challenging due to the context, it has been encouraging to see how people in the community and within our teams are going above and beyond to help malnourished children in the extremely rural villages, as well as to treat outbreaks of disease due to the drought,” said Marian Wetshay-van der Snoek, Medair’s Country Director for Somalia.
In times of food disaster and crisis, Medair will continue providing immediate therapy and follow-up care for those already malnourished, and preventative services and long-term healthy solutions such as health care, better hygiene, access to safe water, and nutrition education to communities in crisis.
Medair’s projects in South Sudan are funded by European Union, the UK Government, US Agency for International Development, South Sudan Humanitarian Fund, US Department of State, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in partnership with Tear NL, and through the Dutch Relief Alliance Joint Response for South Sudan, and generous private donors.
For more information on Medair’s humanitarian projects in South Sudan:
Medair’s projects in Somalia are funded by US Agency for International Development, TEAR (AU), Ferster Foundation (CH), Resurgens Foundation (CH), Gertrude Hirzel Foundation (CH), Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Dutch Relief Alliance Response, in partnership with Dorcas Aid International (NL), and generous private donors.
For more information on Medair’s humanitarian projects in Somalia:
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Albert Gonzalez Farran - MEDAIR