On 23 November 2022, exactly 6 months ago, Swiss Solidarity organised a national day of solidarity for East Africa in order to help people affected by the devastating drought. So far, the foundation has deployed around 80% of the 14 million Swiss francs received in more than 20 humanitarian projects in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, providing aid to almost half a million people. However, the situation in the Horn of Africa remains precarious and the population is still dependent on support.
Swiss Solidarity is helping in the regions most affected by the drought, focusing in particular on children, pregnant and lactating women, and remote and isolated communities which receive no other aid. The current drought is the result of six partial and insufficient rainy seasons since end of 2020. It is one of the worst climate-related disasters in the recent history of the Horn of Africa. The drought is having a devastating impact on people’s livelihoods, thus, it will take many years to rebuild and recover.
Thanks to the solidarity of the Swiss population, Swiss Solidarity is providing aid in the regions severely affected by the drought, most of which are very isolated. In a lot of places, for instance, up to 90% of the livestock, which is essential for survival, died. The local people find themselves in a precarious situation and fear for their future. Swiss Solidarity finances projects of its Swiss partner organizations for the treatment and prevention of malnutrition, especially among children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, ensures access to health services, food and drinking water, and supports families engaged in agricultural and livestock farming. 45% of the donations collected are used in Ethiopia, 35% in Kenya and 20% in Somalia.
Swiss Solidarity finances projects of its Swiss partner organizations active on the ground: Adra Switzerland, Caritas Switzerland, Christoffel Blindenmission, Heks/Eper, Helvetas, Medair, Save the Children Switzerland, Swiss Red Cross, Terre des Hommes Foundation and Véterinaires sans Frontières.
The situation in East Africa remains precarious. More than 22 million people in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia are at risk of hunger. Although rainfall has improved in recent weeks, it is still not enough. Due to the extremely parched soil, the few rains lead to devastating flash floods which cause enormous damage, kill many animals and further worsen the situation of the already very vulnerable people.
Aurore Geiser, Swiss Solidarity Humanitarian Programme Officer, recently returned from a project trip to Kenya and Ethiopia and underlines: “Food insecurity is the most visible consequence of the climate crisis in East Africa, however the impact of the disaster goes far beyond that. The health of the most vulnerable populations is at risk, as is the education and protection of children. The increase in early marriages, violence against women and inter-regional conflicts are less visible but no less dramatic impacts of the drought on the lives of affected populations.”
Given the extent of the drought’s impact, affected populations will need many years to recover from its effects and rebuild their livelihoods. Sustainable solutions must be found to address the impacts of climate change in the long term, particularly by investing in resilient livelihoods.
Donations for East Africa can still be made at www.swiss-solidarity.org or at the post office counter with the note “Hunger in East Africa”.