|UNICEF works to save young lives in drought-stricken Horn of Africa||23 March 2006|
A searing and persistent drought in the Horn of Africa has put millions at risk of starvation – including 1.5 million children under the age of five.
More than 8 million people across Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti are affected by the drought, a result of low rainfall in the region for the past several years. Crops have failed and livestock are dying. And with rain not due until April, the situation is likely to deteriorate further.
That’s why UNICEF is moving rapidly to alleviate the crisis. In February, we issued an international appeal for $16 million in aid to help children affected by the drought, and UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman made an urgent call to action.
“This is an area of Africa that often suffers from drought, and when drought occurs, it impacts the nutrition of children,” Ms. Veneman said. Because children are more susceptible to disease than adults, she added, “in these situations previously, we’ve seen mortality rates for children increase – so we want to get into the area early, so we can address the needs particularly of the children.”
In response to the crisis, UNICEF has dedicated resources that enable us to move quickly in getting aid into affected areas, supplying water, supporting health care and providing measles vaccine and vitamin A supplements to boost children’s immunity.
In addition, UNICEF has been working closely with the governments of the affected countries, along with the World Food Programme and other partner organizations. Feeding programmes have already been put into place in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
And this week, children from the drought-stricken region showed that they are part of the solution. The African children were among over 100 youth delegates from more than 30 countries gathered in Mexico City to discuss how the global water crisis is affecting them.
UNICEF will sustain its emergency response in the Horn of Africa for as long as the drought persists – doing all we can to fulfill our mission of meeting children’s basic needs and expanding their opportunities to reach their full potential.
Thank you for your continued support.
Below are two links that you may be interested in:
Children’s World Water Forum: Calling for change
Priscila Wanjiru Karanja, a 12-year-old Kenyan activist, was one of the youth delegates from the Horn of Africa attending the Children’s World Water Forum. Read her story.