Womankind Worldwide > News > Womankind partners and the East African drought

Womankind partners and the East African drought

Walate Takiso & Ammarech Bekele, Ethiopia 2009East Africa has been hit by the worst drought in 60 years, the UN says. Many parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are classified to be in a state of crisis or emergency and 10 million people are said to be affected across the region and in need of emergency relief.

Facing its worst drought in over a decade, much of Ethiopia where Womankind partners work has been severely affected. At the end of June it was estimated that 3.2 million people in Ethiopia only were in need of emergency aid. Soaring local and global food and fuel prices have only made the situation worse.

UK government response

UK aid will fund the World Food Programme. On July 3rd, as well as pledging £38m ($61m) in food aid to Ethiopia, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said the World Food Programme cash would also treat 329,000 malnourished children and mothers (BBC News 5 July 2011) and provide emergency food aid for 1.3 million drought-stricken people for the next three months to help them through the driest months of the year (DFID 3 July 2011)

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has said of Ethiopia:

“The country has made great strides in many areas over the past 30 years and this emergency relief will help to ensure that these gains are not eroded.”

Womankind has played a significant role in making these great strides in regards to women’s rights and will continue to do so.

How women are being affected

Our partners say that even in non-states of emergency, women are the first to work and the last to eat.

When such a disaster happens it is the most vulnerable segments of the population that are worst hit; women, children and the elderly. There have been many new refugee camps opened-up on the Ethiopian borders and all reach capacity limits within days, many now stand several times over capacity. An example is Dollo-Ado, a town situated on the Ethiopia-Somalia border that is seeing approximately two thousand Somali refugees arriving each day from across the border to enter a camp recently erected there.

Furthermore, UN research says that about a third of all children in parts of Ethiopia are acutely malnourished. And as we know, it is women who are most affected themselves by suffering children, as primary care providers, nursing children through illness and feeding them before themselves.

How Womankind partners are affected

Our partners report that they are deeply concerned about the crisis and are therefore gathering information to explore ways they might be able to provide extra support to those in dire need over-and-above their normal workload. Some are looking into offering livelihood provision to help ease the food crisis and devastating demand for food that will only continue as more and more refugees enter the country.

Although Womankind is not a disaster relief provider, our work with women’s groups in partner countries such as Ethiopia remains vital for long term results in the reduction of women suffering unfairly and unjustly, simply for being women. Our partners working in Ethiopia are working hard to support as many women as they can whilst this crisis persists, and beyond. Our thoughts are with them, and everyone effected by the drought.

Post by Womankind volunteer Rebecca Eaves

Post by Sarah Jackson