Horn of Africa Drought and Famine Relief Fund

by GlobalGiving Vetted since 2002 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Project of the Month Site Visit Verified
Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims#8439
Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims#8439

Far in the Eastern African lands lies the Horn of Africa, a peninsula that is home to four countries: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia. These lands host more than 100,000 people from different ethnicities, languages, and creeds; yet their will to survive and need for help remain together in unison. Though afflicted by the severe drought of 2011, the determination of these people continues to persist thanks to your contribution and the mobilization of GlobalGiving’s partners. 

Imagine walking 1.5 miles every day to get water. That is the distance Fadumo used to walk to get a little bit more than half a gallon of water for her and her family. As if things weren’t already unstable, she decided to walk from Somalia to Ethiopia’s Bokolmanyo refugee camp with her husband and five children, on foot. It is in this place where she currently resides, leaving behind a drought that took everything away from her. Fortunately, International Medical Corps built latrines and bathing shelters for individuals living in these camps. Realizing the refugee’s need for hygiene items, International Medical Corps provided toothpaste, toothbrushes, towels, nail clippers, and body soap as part of hygiene kits to Fadumo, her family, and the rest of the community. Fadumo’s living conditions have greatly improved; in her last interaction with the organization, she said “I am grateful to International Medical Corps that I received the personal hygiene items for free which will enable me and my family to have good personal hygiene”. Your contribution allowed families like Fadumo’s to prevent diseases like pneumonia, eye and skin infections, cholera and typhoid.

Enduring hunger in these times of adversity is extremely hard, yet it is probably even harder to explain the situation to a child. Thousands of children across the region suffer from severe acute malnutrition, causing their stomach to shrink and preventing them from receiving the appropriate nutrients they very much need during their years of growth. However, thanks to your contribution and Edesia Inc, thousands of boxes of Plumpy’nut have been sent to the Horn of Africa region. Plumpy’nut is a tasty peanut based paste that serves to treat severe acute malnutrition, as it contains a balance of fats, protein, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. Thanks to your generous donation, thousands of children do not suffer from malnutrition and can now live a healthy life. 

These times of hunger and hardship will eventually come to an end, but it is important to be well prepared for even worse days to come. That is why part of Mercy Corps’ strategy is to provide long-term relief to the community. Through agreements with the Ethiopian government, Mercy Corp’s mobile health teams taught the government staff practical skills for treating malnutrition in infants and mothers in remote areas of the region. That way, even when outside funding is not available, the community will continue to benefit thanks to the health services that they are now able to provide for themselves. This hard work has already yielded results; such is the story of Fardosa, a government health nurse at Afdam Woreda’s health center. She finished a one month rotation course with Mercy Corp’s mobile health team and will begin working in the mother/child health unit. Having graduated in nursing in 2011 and experienced with midwifery, she says “I have always wanted to help people”. 

It would take several pages to tell the personal stories of everyone you are helping and we thank you for that. Your contribution allowed Save the Children to reach over 3 million people from Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. This organization’s brave staff worked in very dangerous areas, including Mogadishu and the Dadaab refugee camp. They have fed more than 150,000 children and mothers, and provided clean water and food to thousands of others. 

MADRE, An International Women's Human Rights Organization, would also like to share with you an update of the story of Halima, a widow with six children that struggled to feed her family in Kenya. In her last conversation, she said: “I imagine that you were sent to save my children who had nothing to eat for many days. It was painful to watch my children succumb to hunger, but I am glad you have rescued the situation and my children will be safe. Thank you.” To check out Halima’s full story, please go to: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/help-families-fleeing-famine-in-somalia/updates/

In Turkana District, Kenya, Merlin USA provided nutrition services in Kerio, since 2006. With the current food crisis, efforts were doubled, and community health workers conducted outreach visits to communities that were up to six miles away from the facility. They were also able to save baby Napeyok from malnutrition by providing her with medication and Plumpy’nut, in combination with consultations every week. Napeyok no longer suffers from malnutrition; in fact she was discharged in January. Without your kind donations, baby Napeyok’s chances of surviving would have been very low.

Thank you for your generous contribution to the Horn of Africa Famine Relief Fund. Whether your donation allowed a child to recover from malnutrition, supplied a family with hygiene products, or helped health workers teach staff practical skills, the region is now a better place and empirical proof of how people can prosper thanks to the solidarity of others. 

We will keep you updated in the following months; however, feel free to let us know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comment section below. 

Thank you.

PlumpyNut Project #8530
PlumpyNut Project #8530
Merlin USA  (#8748)
Merlin USA (#8748)
Merlin USA Healthcare Workers  (#8748)
Merlin USA Healthcare Workers (#8748)
Zainabu Kamato
Zainabu Kamato

Dear GlobalGivers,

Happy summer! Or, for those of you on the other side of the equator, happy winter! Whichever season you may be in, we hope that you are safe and well. You may not have heard much about the Horn of Africa since many other disasters have occurred since then. Yet we at GlobalGiving would like to update you and remind you of just how important your support is.

Often times, focus is only placed on the large picture of natural disasters i.e. the amount of damage that has been done, extremely high death tolls, how much aid is being given, etc. While these numbers are very important, they can make us forget those people that have lived through the horrors.  Those people whose strength and resilience inspires the rest of us in our daily lives. For this update, we have profiled a few stories of individuals who have proved that despite one of the worst famines our world has seen, live still goes on and can be fulfilling and joyful.

Zainaby Kamato, 45, is a member of a group of female farmers supported by Action Aid International USA. She is also Chairlady of the Relief Committee in Garba Tulla, Kenya. With your support, ActionAid has been supplying mobile phones to help communities in north eastern Kenya communicate with each other and ActionAid. This has been extremely important in the drought response.

“I am married and have six children. My husband is Abdualla, but he is sick. He has been suffering from a mental problem. Heading the relief committee means that I am the main voice of the community when we make assessments to find out how much relief food each household needs. Most of us in the committee are women.”

In her leadership position, Zainabu helps manage the Food for Assets program which is where members of her community work on water harvesting and farming structures in exchange for relief food. This exchange is aimed at building up resilience against future droughts.

“We are building structures that hold the water, so we can farm with very little water. We have had one harvest where we harvested many vegetables. That eased the situation. The better we build these structures, the less rain we need. The phones are a big help when organizing workers for building the structures. The phones also assist me in my communication with the entire community. I can now get updates from everybody with phones and also when relief food arrives.”

Zainabu is proud that she is able to provide for her family, despite everything that they have been through. She strives to be able to pay the school fees for her children and to put food on the table for them. She is truly a role model for her family and community.

“I really want my children to be able to finish school and get jobs so they can travel out of this place – I don’t feel that there are any prospects for them here. When we lost all of our animals I really felt that I had lost the power to control my life. We had to accept food from the government and I didn’t like just living in this way – it made me feel dependent and bad. But now I work for the food, I feel I have taken some control back into my life. Before I started working with this program, children would often go hungry and not eat for a few days, but things are better now. I also like being able to work with other people in the field and feel that we are making our situation better.”

Anab is an 18-year old-girl living in the Ethiopian village of Dudmaygag. In order to get to a source of water, she would have to walk more than two days in simple sandals just to fill a couple of jerry cans. Her entire family depended on these jerry cans to supply their everyday needs for drinking, cooking and washing.

Thanks to people like you, Mercy Corps was able to build a water reservoir near her village. Now, Anab is able to fetch water several times a week and sometimes even daily. She continues to care for her family, but the burden is no longer quite as heavy. Anab, her family and her community are now able to focus on rebuilding after the drought and other aspects of life.

Anab has become an advocate to get more water reservoirs to her village and surrounding areas because she has realized just how critical they are. As the reservoir’s use has increased as more people find out about it, her advocacy becomes that much more crucial. Anab has been empowered to make a difference because of your donations and support.

23-year-old mother and refugee, Bonkay, fled her village in central Somalia’s Bay region with her husband and 2 children because of general insecurity and the worst drought in more than 60 years.  The family walked for 9 days before reaching Dollo Ado in south-east Ethiopia. Dollo Ado now has the world’s second largest refugee complex after Dadaab in Kenya. There are 5 camps in Dollo Ado including Kobe which is where Bonkay resides. These camps host more than 170,000 refugees, most of which are from Somalia.

We used to farm and keep livestock, but they all died because of the drought and we were also in danger of losing our two children,” explains Bonkay.

Bonkay’s husband failed to find work after arriving in the camp, and the family became dependent upon aid and assistance from United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).  Bonkay is illiterate and has never studied before, but that did not dissuade her.  She had heard about a program called Youth Education Pack (YEP) that is only run in Kobe. Through this, she enrolled in a basic literally course and mathematics. Following this two, she will participate in vocational skills training where she will learn culinary skills.

“I want to become a cook and open my own restaurant.”

YEP is a UNHCR-backed program implemented by the Norwegian Refugee Council and is funded by the IKEA Foundation. It focuses on local Ethiopians and Somali refugees aged 15-24 who have had little to no formal education or training. YEP aims to teach both locals and refugees new skills and help them become self-sufficient. Bonkay was a perfect fit for this program.

There are approximately 400 students taking part in the program, half of them are women. About 280 of the students are refugees while the rest are from the host community, with teachers recruited locally. YEP courses are all free and run for one year. Students are encouraged to use the knowledge they have learned in the program to set up their own businesses.

All infrastructures built under this program are handed over to the local population and host community. This helps to reduce dependency on aid and promote self-sufficiency. It also helps create resilience amongst the people so that they can be more prepared for future droughts in this arid region. If it were not for your donations and support, UNHCR and its partner organizations would not be able to turn their focus from aid to programs and opportunities that the refugees can take home with them. YEP and other programs are drastically improving the lives of refugees in ways that have never been done before.

As for Bonkay, she is feeling hopeful and happy. As she played with her 2-year old son during a break from a YEP class, she summed it up best:

Nobody can take my skills away from me, they will not disappear like my farm and livestock did.”

Thank you GlobalGivers! Your continued support has touched so many lives across the world. Even one donation can make a difference in someone’s life. You are truly helping make the world a better place.

People help one another retrieve water
People help one another retrieve water
Somali refugee gets an English-Somali dictionary
Somali refugee gets an English-Somali dictionary
Sneak peak production
Sneak peak production

Greetings GlobalGivers!

What a difference a year can make! Somalian refugee community leader Mire Ahmed Adu Rahman explains, “Last year there was measles and hunger; there were storms that would take the houses away. There was a shortage of tents there was nothing but problems. But now the dying time is over thanks to God. This year, there is life.” While media updates are becoming more scarce since the famine officially ended twelve months ago, we at GlobalGiving wanted to feature a couple of organizations that have continued to provide support and relief to the people of Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti.

Meeting the nutritional needs of the thousands of children that were affected by this famine is Edesia, Inc. They are a non-profit producer of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTFs) such as Plumpy’Nut which is a densely packed, nutrient rich peanut paste. These types of foods require no refrigeration or water making it very simple to ship and distribute to children, families and communities in need. When used properly it has over a 90% success rate, and turns children from skin and bones to healthy and plumpy within 4-10 weeks. Even though the mortality rate has plummeted and great progress has been made thanks to solutions such as Plumpy’Nut, the number of severely malnourished children is still very high compared to global standards. 

A huge challenge in dealing with these malnutrition rates has not been allocating RUTFs, but rather teaching the victims of this famine about their importance. The United Nations Refugee Agency quickly realized this dilemma. Not only was it urgent that they distribute these foods to the people in need, but they had to regularly train them about their bodies’ nutritional needs, especially for children. Dorothy Gazarwa, a UNHCR nutrition officer describes the difficulties, “People who for their entire lives drank camel milk had to learn that Plumpy’Nut was more efficient. Our task was cultural as well as nutritional.” An immense amount of refugees at the camps that UNHCR set up were unaccustomed to Western medicine. Some had never seen a doctor or hospital in their entire lives, and even more astonishing some did not know what a doctor was. Gazarwa goes on to say “training was about changing mentalities. It was important for us to constantly perform refresher trainings and repeat the nutrition message over and over.”  

Both Edesia, Inc. and UNHCR have done amazing jobs at providing hope for the communities and refugee camps affected by this humanitarian disaster. They have helped people in the Horn of Africa look past their day to day needs, and focus on the future and what is in store. Yet their jobs are still not done. Continuous support is needed to make sure that these communities remain healthy and strong, and that their children do not get sick again. Your donations have made it possible for organizations like Edesia, Inc. and UNHCR to administer critical relief and support. No matter how small the donation, a life has been affected by it in the Horn of Africa. Thank you!

Child with Plumpy
Child with Plumpy'Nut
Somali child awaits treatment from UNHCR
Somali child awaits treatment from UNHCR
UNHCR staff
UNHCR staff
Students plant seedlings - Kenya Rainwater Assoc.
Students plant seedlings - Kenya Rainwater Assoc.

“The climate has changed and it is not as easy to grow crops and vegetables as it used to be. Therefore, it is fantastic that ActionAid is supporting us….we are learning farming techniques that makes it possible for us to adapt to the dryer and harsher climate.”

Cecilia Mwangi, 60, of Kenya, is one of over 13 million people who were affected by the severe and persistent drought that started across the Horn of Africa last year. When it became apparent that the rains across much of East Africa would not be enough to sustain the crops and livestock that comprise the food economies of the region, organizations like ActionAid ramped up their activities and partnerships to reach as many people as possible with lifesaving food, water, and medicine. But the work doesn’t end there.

Cecilia participates in ActionAid’s Food for Asset program by working at the Kambi Sheikh farm project, one of over 28,000 participants building community-owned assets in exchange for staple foods.

The droughts, conflict, and high food prices that caused the 2011 food crisis and famine have not gone away. Over 9.1 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are still in need of humanitarian assistance.

“Before, I planted crops and they dried out on my own farm. Now I can grow crops even when the rain is not enough.”

“I managed to sow just before we got some rains 3 months ago. If it keeps improving, I believe that I will be able to cope without the relief food we receive at some point.”

The goal is simple: find long-term solutions to long-term rain shortages.

Not (too) far away, students at the Matuiku Primary School are enjoying the benefits of two recently completed water projects: the construction of separate latrines for boys and girls, and the completion of a water tank stand for a new rainwater harvesting tank for drinking, eating, and school activities.

Mr. Ronald Kamadi, the Kenya Rainwater Association Technical Assistant who constructed the latrines and water tank stand, says this project has already had a dramatic impact on the lives of students at Matuiku Primary School:

"The headteacher of Matuiku Primary School told me that the project has had a very positive impact on the school and community so far.  Absenteeism has gone down, and he believes this is because the children are suffering less from water-borne diseases such as diarrhea.  He has also noted an improvement in the assertiveness of girl pupils in class, which he attributes to them feeling more comfortable in the school environment (due to the improved latrines) and to feeling less tired as they no longer have to walk a long way to collect water."

"There is still a need to improve the nutrition of the children. Future donations will be used to construct a farm pond to supply water to the school vegetable garden, which will improve the school feeding programme.  Funds will also be used to upgrade the capacity of the existing 10,000-litre tank, as there is a growing need for water for drinking, handwashing and cleaning."

The Kenya Rainwater Association would like to thank the generous donors of GlobalGiving UK for the £581 grant which is helping to make these plans a reality.

We here at GlobalGiving would also like to thank you. Thank you for your generous contribution to the Horn of Africa Drought and Famine Relief Fund in support of the people who found themselves in dire need last year. Please remember, though, that this year’s rains are still delayed, and over 9.1 million people are still in need of assistance. Would you consider giving again? Your donation will support programs such as emergency feeding programs, medicine for the sick, and training and support for life-sustaining rainwater harvesting and climate adaptive farming techniques.



Mattie Ressler

Cecilia Mwangi - ActionAid International
Cecilia Mwangi - ActionAid International
Matuiku kids - credit GHARP/KRA
Matuiku kids - credit GHARP/KRA
Hijad with his grandmother Halima, Merlin USA
Hijad with his grandmother Halima, Merlin USA

Dear GlobalGivers,

For this month’s project report for the Horn of Africa Drought and Famine Relief Fund, we would like to highlight one GlobalGiving partner organization that the fund supports: Merlin USA. Merlin USA has been delivering health and emergency assistance to people in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya throughout the famine and drought and continues to be active in the Horn of Africa.

With working partnerships around the region, some of which have been established for over ten years, Merlin USA was able to distribute food and supplies quickly and effectively when the food crisis began last year. Primarily focused on health outreach, Merlin USA partners with agencies such as the Kenyan Ministry of Health to operate or support health facilities and mobile clinics to reach rural communities. During the food crisis and famine, Merlin USA ramped up its medical presence in health facilities and outreach sites: screening almost 30,000 children under five for malnutrition, and offering therapeutic feeding programs to those with severe acute malnutrition (a “life-threatening condition requiring urgent treatment,” according to the World Health Organization).

Health education is a crucial pillar of Merlin USA’s efforts in the Horn of Africa as it builds local healthcare capacity to respond to community needs. Merlin USA has conducted health and hygiene information sessions for the general public and trainings for health staff and committees. Merlin USA has also conducted trainings on water management, creating local water associations and teaching community health workers about the safe storing and handling of water resources. As communities work together to learn more about healthy behavior and are better trained to cope with food (and water) insecurity, communities will be better equipped to face future droughts.

Going forward, below average and erratic rainfall is expected across much of the region this year as well, so food harvests will continue to suffer and many families and individuals will continue to need assistance to meet their basic needs. Merlin USA plans to remain active in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya until at least the end of the year, and will be expanding its services in the Sahel region in response to poor rainfall, continued conflict, and rising food insecurity there. Thanks in part to your donations, Merlin USA continues to save lives by promoting health and nutrition in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

Safe at one of our feeding centers, Merlin USA
Safe at one of our feeding centers, Merlin USA

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