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East Africa Famine 2011-12

Today, children in East Africa are facing a desperate crisis caused by prolonged drought, soaring food prices and conflict. This crisis is getting worse and we need to act now to save lives.

SOS staff and beneficary of famine relief, KenyaThe drought which is currently engulfing parts of East Africa is the worst to hit the region in over 60 years. According to the United Nations, over 12.4 million people are now facing starvation, with entire families and communities abandoning their homes in desperate search of food and water.

SOS Children is helping those who need it most urgently in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the most badly affected countries, by working in refugee camps and communities and establishing therapeutic feeding centres, medical clinics and starting  vaccination campaigns.

We need your help to ensure we can continue to reach vulnerable children and families. We are a well established, experienced, charity in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya with a clear strategy on what to do. We need your help to make direct tangible actions which make the difference. The best way to help famine victims in East Africa with SOS Children is through a child or village sponsorship, or a regular donation.

A child or village sponsorship helps us to focus on the long-term welfare of children who have no one to care for them as a result of the famine:

Sponsor in East Africa

Regular donations give us money we can rely on and support us to stay in the affected countries as long as it takes to rebuild lives:

Regular donation to East Africa

You can also support our work in East Africa by making a one-off donation directly to our Emergency Relief Programme:

East Africa donation

Worst crisis in 60 years
East Africa Appeal ERP map
SOS Children's Emergency Relief Programmes in East Africa

A number of catastrophic factors have combined to create the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. As well as drought and soaring food prices, ongoing political instability and violent conflict are adding further complexity to the desperate situation in these countries.

In Somalia, many families are trekking for weeks in the hope of finding help in refugee camps in other areas of the country, or in neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia. There are reports of orphaned and unaccompanied minors arriving at refugee camps alone. In some cases, parents have sent their children to the camps with other family members, whilst they remain behind hoping for a change in the situation.

The conditions in the refugee camps are desperate. The largest refugee camp in the world, Dadaab, in Kenya is currently home to 380,000 refugees. Many more families are waiting to be registered at the Kenya-Somali border. The situation in Ethiopia is similar, with a reported 2,000 refugees arriving at the Doolow Ado camp every day. Children and women are the most vulnerable. And in Somalia, thousands of drought-affected families from all over the Bay and Bakool regions in central are arriving every day to overcrowded camps in Mogadishu in search of food and medical care. 

East Africa drought 2011, Somalia 6SOS Children’s Emergency Relief Programme

In order to help those in need, SOS Children have set up an Emergency Relief Programme to provide food, water, shelter and medical care to thousands of children and families struggling to survive in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

SOS Children's Regional Strategy Coordinator for East Africa, Charles Bury, believes that SOS Children’s strength lies in the established presence we have in the countries concerned. He says “We have been there for so long, and we have such good relationships within the communities in which we are working…we are able to use that relationship to respond quickly to things like the emergency that we are seeing now in this region.”

Read more about our Emergency Relief Programmes in Somalia

Read more about our Emergency Relief Programmes in Kenya and Ethiopia

As well as meeting their immediate needs, SOS Children are concerned with the long-term welfare of the children in the refugee camps. We will help to reunite families, and if necessary, provide a new home for children orphaned as a result of the famine in our SOS Children’s Villages.

East Africa Famine News

East Africa Famine: Abdi makes a difference in Mogadishu

East Africa Famine: Abdi makes a difference in Mogadishu

Jan 30, 2012 02:15 PM

Six months after famine was declared across the Horn of Africa, SOS Children continue to provide vital medical services to keep families alive. SOS Health Worker Abdi has migrated 125 miles away from his family to help his fellow Somalis recover from the famine.

Dispatches from Ethiopia: Gode town life

Dispatches from Ethiopia: Gode town life

Jan 13, 2012 12:14 PM

Ann explains what life in Gode town is like for some of the children who live there...

Dispatches from Ethiopia: Helping the people of Gode

Dispatches from Ethiopia: Helping the people of Gode

Jan 03, 2012 01:52 PM

Ann Speak introduces some of the people who have benefited from SOS Children's Emergency Relief Programme in Gode.

East Africa Famine: The harrowing facts on Somalia

Dec 23, 2011 12:50 PM

People in Somalia still face a desperate situation, long after the crisis began:

Mogadishu: fear and hardship

Mogadishu: fear and hardship

Dec 23, 2011 12:50 PM

One of SOS Children’s workers, Monika Psenner, has visited the Somali capital and recorded an audio (see below) on the harrowing conditions there.

East Africa Famine: Helping children overcome trauma in Mogadishu

East Africa Famine: Helping children overcome trauma in Mogadishu

Dec 22, 2011 10:55 AM

Since our Emergency Relief Programme got underway across the Horn of Africa in July, SOS Children has helped save lives and improve living conditions for over 70,000 of the worst-affected victims of famine. Now, we are also providing ‘child friendly spaces’ in Badbado refugee camp in Mogadishu to help children to come to terms with the difficult times.

Dispatches from Ethiopia: Hope for the Future

Dec 15, 2011 01:05 PM

Ann Speak reflects on her first impressions of Gode and the difference SOS Children is making in the community.

Dispatches from Ethiopia: After the rain

Dispatches from Ethiopia: After the rain

Dec 15, 2011 12:55 PM

Ann Speak explains how the recent rains in Gode have affected the community's livelihood's.

Dispatches from Ethiopia: A day in the life of the SOS Children's Village

Dec 15, 2011 11:05 AM

Ann Speak spends some time in the SOS Children's Village in Gode.

East Africa Famine: SOS Children Village is looted

East Africa Famine: SOS Children Village is looted

Dec 01, 2011 03:22 PM

The abandoned SOS Children’s Village in Mogadishu, Somalia, has been looted.

East Africa Famine: Where your money goes

East Africa Famine: Where your money goes

Dec 01, 2011 03:15 PM

What is SOS Children doing with donations raised for the emergency victims in the Horn of Africa?

East Africa Famine: New challenges in northern Kenya

East Africa Famine: New challenges in northern Kenya

Nov 07, 2011 09:20 AM

Marsabit, North Kenya, is the most famine-affected areas in the country. Millions are facing hunger and an uncertain future, after the drought destroyed their crops and livestock. Although recent heavy rain has brought an end to five years of drought, new challenges have emerged which SOS Children are overcoming to reach those most in need.

SOS Children uses Smart Card technology to reach famine-hit families in Kenya

SOS Children uses Smart Card technology to reach famine-hit families in Kenya

Oct 31, 2011 12:20 PM

SOS Children has partnered with a Kenya-based company to provide an electronic “smart” card that allows families affected by the current drought and famine to obtain food and cash directly from local shops. Piloting a new form of more efficient aid, the card has so far been a success.

Somalia: Rains bring mixed fortunes for famine victims

Somalia: Rains bring mixed fortunes for famine victims

Oct 21, 2011 12:39 PM

Seasonal rains have begun in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, adding to the problems for thousands of families already suffering the effects of the famine and the closure of the SOS hospital for security reasons.

East Africa Famine: SOS Children helping families in their homes in Somalia

East Africa Famine: SOS Children helping families in their homes in Somalia

Oct 07, 2011 03:45 PM

Baidoa, in central Somalia, was declared an official famine area by the UN in September. In the country as a whole, at least 750,000 people are estimated to be at risk of death without urgent intervention. SOS Children are adapting our Emergency Relief operations in the area to help families in the best way we can.

East Africa Famine: Drought affects school attendace in Kenya

East Africa Famine: Drought affects school attendace in Kenya

Oct 07, 2011 12:30 PM

The ongoing drought in northern Kenya, one of the worst of our times, has also affected school attendance. Since SOS Children began delivering fresh water and food to schools in August, classes have started to fill up again.

East Africa Famine: Deadly competition for survival

East Africa Famine: Deadly competition for survival

Sep 30, 2011 10:52 AM

Joseph Kajwang, from SOS Children's Villages Kenya, tells us how, in the dried-out region of Marsabit, SOS Children is battling the harsh conditions to reach remote villages.

East Africa Famine: Emergency Relief reaches vulnerable families in Ethiopia

East Africa Famine: Emergency Relief reaches vulnerable families in Ethiopia

Sep 28, 2011 10:00 AM

In the current famine in East Africa, households which were already vulnerable before this crisis are particularly at risk. SOS Children have identified marginalized children and families in two areas of Ethiopia, who are now receiving urgent food supplies and assistance to help them to survive.

East Africa Famine: SOS staff risk their lives in Somalia

East Africa Famine: SOS staff risk their lives in Somalia

Sep 28, 2011 09:35 AM

'Everybody in Mogadishu knows SOS Children' is a statement you hear often in the war-torn capital of Somalia, a city where many international aid organisations have had to give up their work, but where SOS Children has been helping since the early 1980s.

East Africa Famine: An update from Somalia

East Africa Famine: An update from Somalia

Sep 26, 2011 10:30 AM

Southern Somalia remains one of the hardest-hit areas in the current famine. As the crisis continues to worsen, SOS Children are helping as many families as possible, by providing food, specialised treatment for malnourished children, as well as general health services. We are also setting up processes to ensure the safety of unaccompanied and vulnerable children.

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