Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims

by International Medical Corps

Recovery efforts from East Africa’s drought continue. International Medical Corps operates in many of the drought-stricken areas, including Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. Today, our focus is on creating sustainable solutions that will save lives in the future.

In Kenya, multiple rainwater harvesting projects will allow communities to gather and store rainwater, providing relief for both the population and their livestock. Prior to the installation of the rainwater harvesting systems, children would miss school as their families searched farther and farther from home for water. Livestock died from thirst, placing severe burdens on parents with families to feed. In these communities, water committees are developed through local leadership to establish a sustainable method of maintaining and sharing the systems.

In Ethiopia, our nutrition teams work to provide key information for caretakers on child nutrition. International Medical Corps teaches preventative strategies of malnutrition, stopping the problem before it starts. Adjacent to this, International Medical Corps also provides emergency feeding programs which offer therapeutic nutrition and essential nutrition support to households.

In Somalia, International Medical Corps improved access to safe water supply through rehabilitation of water sources. Berkhads are traditional water reservoirs that in many areas of Somalia are the only source of water for households and livestock in the dry season.  They are manmade and usually sunk into the ground with a stone or brick wall and then plastered to minimize water leakage.  They catch rain water and runoff in the rainy season and this water is then used through the dry season. 

However, many berkhads are cracked from poor maintenance, allowing the leakage of precious water.  Most berkhads are not fenced, allowing animals to drink directly from them and risking contamination of water.  Neither are most berkhads covered, which also increases risk of contamination as well as increasing water loss through evaporation.  By rehabilitating these berkhads to address these issues, access to clean water has dramatically increased and enabled improvement of both household health and the health of the livestock these households depend on for food and income. 

International Medical Corps’ response to the East Africa drought continues. There is still work to be done in these countries, and we appreciate every dollar donated to our efforts. Without you, our accomplishments would not be possible. Thank you!

We often tell you about the individual lives our work touches so that you can understand the personal impact your support for International Medical Corps has. But in many ways, the sustainability of our efforts depends on the local health care workers we train. They help connect our critical health services with the people we aim to reach, and ensure that lifesaving skills and knowledge stay in local communities long after we’re gone.

So meet Semira (pictured).

Semira joined International Medical Corps in September 2011 as a Hygiene Promotion Field Officer working in the remote Dolo Ado refugee complex in Ethiopia, home to 10,000 Somali refugees. Here, International Medical Corps provides relief to thousands of refugees impacted by the severe drought that has inflicted wide-spread food insecurity and devastation across east Africa.

In Dolo Ado’s Kobe camp, Semira educates refugees on safe hygiene and sanitation practices to promote optimal health among families living in crowded and unsanitary conditions. Semira’s numerous responsibilities include conducting peer discussions on safe hygiene and sanitation practices at schools; weekly gatherings and focus groups for women; and house-to-house visits. She also organizes monthly jerry can cleaning campaigns at water points to ensure that families are keeping these containers (used to carry drinking water) free of disease-causing germs. To keep her skills up-to-date, Semira regularly participates in International Medical Corps’ monthly refresher training sessions.

Semira is proud of her work and notes that many of the households she has worked with have improved their hygiene and sanitation practices, including hand washing after bathroom use and before food preparation, proper disposal of household waste, and hygienic use of latrines.

Semira says, “I am hopeful that I will build on my community mobilization skills and hygiene and sanitation knowledge through additional capacity-building trainings provided by  International Medical Corps…I also plan to go on to further education to gain management skills.”

It’s because of your support that Semira has positively impacted so many people’s lives in Kobe camp—and that she will continue to change lives for the better for many years to come. Thank you!

Refugees wait to clean jerry cans.
Refugees wait to clean jerry cans.

Halimo cares for her four young children alone, since her husband died in the brutal conflict that still rages in her native Somalia. In 2011 she fled drought and violence, making the 8-day journey by truck to Boqolmayo refugee camp in Ethiopia.

Once at the camp, Halimo was deeply concerned that she needed to repeatedly take her children to the medical clinic for treatment, as they were constantly falling ill and suffering from malnutrition.

Boqolmayo camp was built to accommodate 20,000 refugees, yet today nearly 40,000 people live there, placing a massive strain on the water supply and sanitation services in the camp. Diseases related to inadequate water and poor sanitation and hygiene practices such as skin diseases, eye infections, diarrhea and intestinal worms are a frequent feature of life in the camp.

This March we began a campaign to improve the hygiene and sanitation infrastructure at the camp.  Before meeting with one of our Community Hygiene Promoters (CHP), Halimo had been fetching water using an old and dirty jerry can. She had no idea that this could be linked to the recurring bouts of diarrhea that her children had been suffering.

The CHPs taught Halimo about proper hygiene and sanitation practices, including hand washing at critical times, proper utilization of latrines, safe solid and liquid waste disposal, and proper storage and handling of water. Afterwards, Halimo began to attend our awareness-raising tea talks. For the last three months, she has been cleaning her compound, washing her and her children’s hands using soap and cleaning her jerry cans every other day.

“My children are healthy and growing well, and my first child is now in school!” says Halimo.


We have exciting news we’d like to share with you!  Starting at 12:01 am EDT on June 13th, GlobalGiving will match online donations to our projects at 50%. 

This means that your gift will go 50% further to help families affected by tragedy overcome difficult obstacles for a happier, healthier future.

Consider giving again to Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims or see our many other projects helping devastated communities worldwide recover and rebuild.

And there is more.

The organization that raises the most funds on Bonus Day will receive an additional $1,000 from GlobalGiving.  And an additional $1,000 will be given to the organization with the most unique donors

There are $75,000 available in matching funds – we need you to act fast before they’re gone!  If you’ve been waiting for the right time to give, Wednesday is the day.  Please don’t hesitate.

Our lifesaving work is possible because of you.  Thank you in advance for your generosity. 


Dance Ceremonies as Part of GBV Community Outreach
Dance Ceremonies as Part of GBV Community Outreach

Almost one year ago, you helped us respond to a massive humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa.  We’ve been able to reach thousands of families displaced, and today our training and education programs are creating lasting positive change within these devastated communities. 

Ethiopia’s Dolo Ado camps are home to more than 150,000 refugees, the vast majority Somalis who’ve fled across the border to Ethiopia.  A deeply conservative society, gender-based violence (GBV) is pervasive in Somalia and women are often relegated second-class status. 

Since 2009, International Medical Corps’s GBV awareness and prevention programs in the Dolo Ado camps provide key services to survivors, including psychosocial support and referral services.  We also work to change attitudes towards gender-roles and GBV within the community:  our teams holds community events like tea talks, dance ceremonies, and skits to educate and mobilize community members. 

Sadiya was just one of the women who’ve benefited from our work.  After losing three of her children to the drought in Somalia, she fled with her remaining children to Dolo Ado while her husband stayed to look after their property. 

Although life in the camps is challenging, Sadiya now has the opportunity to be exposed to new ideas on how to improve her and her family’s lives at International Medical Corps’ tea-talk sessions.  

Says Sadiya: “I like attending the tea-talk sessions. I can be here with my friends. I feel safe here.   I have a young daughter and thanks to what I have learned here, I won’t make her marry early. And I won’t subject her to female genital cutting.”

When asked if her husband would object to her new views, Sadiya replies, “I will educate him, and I think he will listen. If not, I will bring him to a tea-talk session.”

Sadiya is just one of thousands of refugees in East Africa whose lives we’ve changed with your help.  On behalf of all of us at International Medical Corps, thank you!



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International Medical Corps

Location: Los Angeles, CA - USA
Website: https:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Los Angeles, CA United States

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