Women and children in Turkana, Kenya, February 2022. Photo credit: Girl Child Network

Call for immediate action to combat extreme hunger in the Horn of Africa

Aidlink joins Irish development and humanitarian organisations in calling on the Irish government to lead the urgent mobilisation of aid to 23 million people who are facing extreme hunger in drought-stricken Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

The region has experienced four successive failed rainy seasons which can be directly attributed to the global climate crisis. This climate-induced drought, compounded by local conflict, unsustainable food systems, economic devastation from the Covid-19 pandemic and the disrupted food and energy systems due to war in Ukraine is creating impossible living conditions for people in the region. Today, one person is likely dying every 48 seconds from hunger across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

In Kenya, it is predicted that 5 million people will face extreme food insecurity while 775,000 children are likely to suffer from acute malnutrition by September this year. The most marginalised communities find themselves in the teeth of the climate crisis despite being the least responsible. Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia represent just 2.5% of the world’s population and account for only 0.1% of global carbon emissions, whereas China and the USA are responsible for 45% of global carbon emissions.

Moreover, women and girls are disproportionately affected as they care for others and search for water. The likelihood that women and girls will be subjected to sexual and gender-based violence increases during times of drought as the burden of water collection falls on them.

Girl, Turkana, collecting water, February 2022. Photo credit: GCN

Aidlink is working through partnership with local organisations in Kenya, including the Girl Child Network Kenya and Friends of Lake Turkana, who are providing immediate support to local communities in Turkana and Kajiado counties who find themselves on the frontline of this climate crisis. Our school feeding programme is ensuring students remain in school, safe and learning throughout the high-risk period of drought.

Meanwhile, we are working to build the capacity of these marginalised communities to survive this drought and prepare for the future impact of climate change on their lives and livelihoods. Our long-term actions include the provision of water sources in schools and the training of community members on Disaster, Risk Mitigation and Reduction.

Aidlink echo the call of Dóchas, GOAL, Concern, Trócaire and Oxfam Ireland for immediate collective action by the Irish government and the international community to tackle alarming levels of hunger in the Horn of Africa and abate widespread famine.