|© UNICEF 2006|
|A woman and a man from the Borena tribe drive sheep and goats across parched, stony ground.|
By Patricia Lone
NAIROBI, Kenya, 10 April 2006 – The United Nations regional appeal for the Horn of Africa was launched Friday at a standing-room-only event here. Out of the total appeal for $426 million, UNICEF is asking donors for $97.7 million.
The money is needed to provide humanitarian assistance to drought-stricken areas of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Of the 8 million people in dire need of live-saving assistance in those areas, approximately 1.6 million are children under the age of five (not including Eritrea, where figures have yet to be confirmed). And children are among the most affected, weakening quickly and lethally by malnutrition and succumbing to commonplace infections like measles and diarrhoea.
|Two children and a woman balancing a water container on her head walk away from the town of Loyengalani in the northern, drought-affected district of Marsabit, Kenya.|
What was once a 10-year drought cycle in the region has now been abbreviated, because of climate shifts, to a 3- to 5-year cycle. The people of the hardest-hit areas are pastoralists, dependent on their herds of cattle and goats for survival. Even if the rains are sufficient in the upcoming months, the massive deaths of livestock that have already occurred mean that families and communities will remain dependent on assistance and without livelihoods.
Towards a ‘cycle of recovery’
The appeal was launched by United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland, who noted that it coincided with the twelfth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.
|© UNICEF/ HQ06-0040/Heavens|
|The skeleton of a dead animal lies on an arid stretch of land where two girls are walking near the town of Denan, in the drought-ravaged Somali Region of southeastern Ethiopia.|
Stating that resources were needed “yesterday” to counter the effects of this slow-onset emergency among the pastoral people of the five countries, Mr. Egeland said the consolidated appeal sought funding for 22 aid partners, including UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.
The funds being sought will help keep the crisis from turning into a catastrophe by addressing immediate needs for food, water and sanitation, and health interventions. Funds from the appeal will also go towards longer-term interventions that, said Mr. Egeland, would set in motion the “virtuous cycle of development and recovery” that is vital in ending “the vicious cycle of poverty and emergencies.”
More on the drought in the Horn of Africa