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Australian government commits to saving lives of over 13 million at risk in Horn of Africa

Despite global relief efforts, the humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa is continuing to worsen.

According to the United Nations, around 13.3 million people are now affected, and this number is likely to grow in the coming months. Around 30,000 children have already died in the last three months.

At a United Nations Horn of Africa mini-summit on 24 September, representatives from 13 countries, including Australia, pledged additional funds of $219 million. Overall, it has been estimated that $599 million is still needed to respond effectively to humanitarian needs.

As part of this commitment, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd today announced the launch of the Horn of Africa Dollar for Dollar Initiative. This means that any individual donation to a charity appeal by one of 17 organisations, including ChildFund Australia, will be matched by the Australia government, AusAID.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon remarked at the summit that international aid efforts to date have helped to ensure that, despite the worst drought in six decades, there is no famine in Kenya and Ethiopia.

However, the continued lack of rainfall in these countries, and civil upheaval in Somalia, has resulted in the food crisis reaching disastrous proportions.

Speaking at the summit, Executive Director of the UN World Food Program Josette Sheeran said: “While droughts may not be preventable, famines are,” she said. “In areas where the humanitarian community has access, millions of hungry are being reached with life-saving action and lasting hunger solutions are being deployed that cover the full spectrum of food security.”

ChildFund’s emergency response is focused on families living in drought-affected regions in Kenya and Ethiopia. This includes the following programs:

  • Nutrition: Providing supplementary food at early childhood centres as well as nutrition education to parents.
  • Water and sanitation: Improving access to water in the arid and semi-arid areas through trucking of potable water, providing water vessels and water treatment chemicals. To reduce the risk of disease, ChildFund is also providing hygiene education to all caregivers of children.
  • Health: Continuously monitoring children’s nutritional status, providing vitamin A and iron supplements, deworming and treating minor illnesses. Referring cases that require further attention to the appropriate healthcare centres.

In particular, ChildFund offers specialised support for children under the age of five, who are most at risk. Victor Koyi, national director of ChildFund Kenya, explains: “Our constant concern is the well-being of children, especially those five and younger. They are at the highest risk of death and life-long development issues due to inadequate food intake at a young age.

 

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