A famine has been declared in Unity State in South Sudan, the first time a famine has been declared anywhere since 2011. A famine is declared only when certain measures of mortality, malnutrition and hunger are met:
- at least 20% of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope;
- acute malnutrition rates exceed 30 percent;
- and the death rate exceeds two persons per day per 10,000 persons.
The combination of drought, political instability and conflict in parts of the region is especially lethal.
“The urgent situation in the Horn of Africa is largely being ignored by the media,” said Meg Gardinier, Secretary General of ChildFund Alliance. “Yet the lives and livelihoods of millions of people are in jeopardy. Children are at greatest risk.”
Conditions are expected to worsen in the coming year and expand to neighboring countries. The situation is chronic, recurring and protracted.
“Children are particularly vulnerable in situations like this,” said Josh Chaffin, senior advisor, child protection in emergencies at ChildFund Alliance. “When lots of people are on the move, the risks of gender-based violence, including child marriage, sexual violence and exploitation, increase, particularly where children are separated from family members. We are also hearing that large numbers of children are dropping out of school in Somalia and Kenya, and reports of increased child labor in Kenya.”
Members of ChildFund Alliance, a global network of 11 child-focused development organizations, are responding to the drought and providing lifesaving assistance in many of the affected counties.
Ethiopia: ChildFund New Zealand, ChildFund International and Christian Children’s Fund of Canada are combining their efforts to address the impact of the drought in Ethiopia. Based on assessed needs, the agencies will jointly focus on emergency WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), nutrition, emergency food assistance, education, agriculture and child protection in 14 woredas (districts) across four states: Oromia, Amhara, SNNP and Afar. They expect to reach more than 115,000 people, of whom more than 60 percent will be children.
Kenya: ChildFund New Zealand is supporting ChildFund International's emergency response which will focus on three main areas of intervention – food security; health and nutrition; and WASH. Its national office ChildFund Kenya will work with local partners in the affected regions to mobilize community participation, ensuring that all eligible groups affected are adequately supported. ChildFund will also continue its collaboration with key stakeholders in the response, including county governments, the World Food Program, community-based organizations, NGOs and Kenya Red Cross. This collaborative effort will ensure a coordinated and effective response.
South Sudan: In response to the famine, which has put more than one million people at risk of starvation, ChildFund New Zealand & ChildFund Australia have launched the Africa Food Crisis Appeal, working with partners to provide emergency food aid to the worst affected communities. ChildFund Korea South Sudan office, a program of ChildFund Korea, is also assessing the situation in the crisis-affected areas, including Unity, Central Equatoria and Eastern Equatoria states, with a view to providing emergency relief in collaboration with local partners.
Uganda: ChildFund International continues its work in Uganda, but is not present in the areas affected by the current crisis. It will continue to monitor the situation to see if ChildFund’s participation in the response is warranted.
“Emergency funding is essential to address the drought in the Horn of Africa,” said Gardinier. “In addition to critical funding for food and water, we must not overlook the need to support child protection, which is so often neglected in disasters. We call on the international community to respond to this crisis before it is too late.”