Food crisis in East Africa

A youth on the edge of a Caritas Kenya-supported dam, built in 2008 as part of the Caritas Katangi Food Security Support Project in the village of Kalele in southern Kenya. Accessing water is a critical need in this arid region of Kenya, and with the failure in 2010 of the rainy season, water shortages in 2011 have become acute. Credits: David Snyder/Caritas

A youth on the edge of a Caritas Kenya-supported dam, built in 2008 as part of the Caritas Katangi Food Security Support Project in the village of Kalele in southern Kenya. Accessing water is a critical need in this arid region of Kenya, and with the failure in 2010 of the rainy season, water shortages in 2011 have become acute.
Credits: David Snyder/Caritas

Caritas members are responding to a growing humanitarian crisis in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. The worst droughts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia in 60 years have left at least 10 million people in need of aid. Half of those are children. Tanzania and the new state of South Sudan are experiencing serious food and water shortages too.

With no rains expected until October the situation will get considerably worse.

The crisis is acute in Somalia. Caritas Somalia President Msgr. Giorgio Bertin said, “The humanitarian situation in Somalia is simply disastrous. In Central Southern Somalia, the drought is coupled with a lack of government and 20 years of conflict. If we want to avoid a human catastrophe we must act quickly but carefully in this complex insecure environment.”

Thousands of Somalis are arriving in Ethiopia and Kenya every day. Malnutrition rates among Somali children arriving into Ethiopia or Kenya are as high as 47 per cent. Child malnutrition rates have doubled since January.

Caritas Somalia is reaching 7000 people through Operation Lifeline with food aid. This includes over 1400 children and the elderly. Caritas Somalia is also providing supplementary feeding to over 4000 people, targeting new mothers and children and the elderly.

Caritas Switzerland and Caritas Luxembourg are providing 70,000 semi-nomadic people with access to clean water in Eastern Somaliland.

In Kenya, Caritas Kenya says malnutrition rates, particularly for children, are critical, livestock are dying due to lack of water and there have been outbreaks of cholera in parts of the country where water is scarce. Read more about hunger in Kenya and how to stop it

Caritas Kenya and other Caritas members are providing food relief to 40,000 people in the worst affected areas in Eastern Kenya and the Rift Valley. Again, children and new mothers are being reached first with aid. Veterinary programmes hope to keep 15,000 cattle healthy.

Bishop Peter Kihara, the Bishop of Marsabit in one of the worst-hit areas of Northern Kenya said: “There is no question that we have a very desperate situation and it is deteriorating rapidly. We urgently call to our brothers and sisters across the world to help us in this time of need.”

In Ethiopia, the Deyr (long) rains failed totally at the end of last year and this year’s Belg rains have been very poor. The lowland pastoralist regions in the south and the south-east are facing critical shortages of water and pasture for livestock.

Caritas Ethiopia (known nationally as the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat) is reaching over 80,000 people in Haraghe and Meki with food distributions with the support of the Caritas confederation.

Caritas members are also supporting livestock programmes in the southern Borana region, helping 25,000 households to maintain the health of their cattle.

Interactive map with Caritas projects in the area

Caritas launches Kenya emergency appeal

Q and A on the crisis

Rain only part of the solution for East Africa drought

From Caritas Blog: Fleeing Somalia as famine declared

Caritas dam protects Kenyans against drought

Drought in East Africa: Kenya’s cattle dying

Caritas project brings water to drought-stricken community in Ethiopia

Caritas photo gallery

Caritas Internationalis

President: Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle
Secretary General: Michel Roy

Caritas Internationalis
Palazzo San Calisto
Vatican City State
V-00120

Reception Desk: + 39 06 698 797 99
Fax: + 39 06 698 872 37
Email: caritas.internationalis@caritas.va

The office is open from Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm.

If you need to contact a staff member outside of office hours in a humanitarian emergency, please call + 39 334 359 0700 or email emergencies@caritas.va