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Horn of Africa drought relief update – one year on

In July 2011, the Horn of Africa was struck with a devastating drought. Crops withered, livestock perished and millions of children were at risk of starvation.

ChildFund responded to this emergency by mobilising the communities we work with in Kenya and Ethiopia, and providing emergency feeding, water and healthcare. These initiatives meant that affected families could remain in their communities, rather than being forced to leave home in search of food, making them stronger when the crisis was over.

Close to 7,000 generous supporters responded to our Horn of Africa Emergency Appeal, saving the lives of thousands of children and their families. In total, $991,061 was donated by the Australian public to ChildFund’s appeal – $417,489 of this was matched dollar for dollar by the Australian government through AusAID. These donations helped provide life-saving nourishment to over 75,000 children, women and men.

ChildFund was able to deliver these emergency supplies to drought-affected areas in Kenya and Ethiopia:

  • 580 tons of maize
  • 498 tons of Famix (nutrient-rich porridge mix for malnourished children)
  • 120 tons of beans
  • 59 tons of edible oil
  • 38 tons of rice
  • 1.6 tons of sugar


In 2011, children and families in the Horn of Africa faced one of the worst droughts in recent history.

Very young children, who are particularly vulnerable and often overlooked in a crisis, and pregnant or breastfeeding women were the focus of our relief efforts. Since July, when the food shortage was at its worst and the rains were nowhere in sight, ChildFund has provided life-saving nourishment to 42,545 children under five and 9,186 pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Our team in Kenya also used donations to provide health monitoring and medical assistance to children and 558,000 litres of water to remote communities. In Ethiopia, ChildFund has been able to support the drilling of two boreholes (deep-water wells) in drought-affected Siraro district bringing fresh water for the first time to more than 13,000 children, women and men.

Meseret from Ethiopia was six months pregnant when the food crisis began. She told our staff: “It was one of the most difficult times in my life.” ChildFund supported Meseret through the final stages of her pregnancy with supplementary food and edible oil. Happily, she gave birth to a healthy baby in October.

Birtukan, a 10-year-old girl from Ethiopia, recalls her life as the crisis took hold: “We used to eat three meals a day before the drought condition. But during the emergency period, our parents could manage to feed us only once in a day. Most of the time, I had to go to school without food, feeling hungry and weak. My ability to listen to a teacher, to read and understand faded away. All my family lost hope. My father tried to work as a daily labourer and brought some money, which was not enough to fulfil the most basic need of my family – food. Now, thanks to ChildFund, I could eat enough and attend school with a full stomach.”

The situation in drought-affected parts of Kenya and Ethiopia remains uncertain. Thanks to ongoing emergency feeding and medical care, children’s health is improving and malnutrition rates are reversing in the communities where ChildFund works. However, the rains continue to be erratic, which is affecting crop yields. ChildFund continues to monitor the situation and support communities in Kenya and Ethiopia to ensure the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable children and families.

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