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Famine in East Africa
And what you can do to help

Horrific drought causes widespread famine
According to the United Nations (UN), East Africa is experiencing their worst drought in 60 years. This is one of the leading factors that have caused the UN to declare a famine in parts of Somalia. The hunger crisis is not only affecting Somalia, but also the rest of the Horn of Africa which includes Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti. There are now an estimated 12.4 million people in these countries in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

The food supply of these countries depends largely on traditional farming, which has been at a loss due to lack of rainfall for the past two years in the region. These farmers, known as pastoralists, rely on their livestock to sustain a living. The bleak conditions have already caused the majority of livestock in these areas to die.

These conditions are forcing thousands of people into crowded refugee camps throughout the region. Here, numerous children become ill with curable diseases such as measles, but they often die from lack of vaccines and access to treatment.

Aid withheld from those hit hardest
In Somalia, where the crisis is most severe, the lack of a functioning government further endangers its population. Al-Shabab is an al-Qaeda linked militant group that controls most of this nation, including the regions where the UN has declared a famine.

Al-Shabab has banned Western aid agencies from their areas of control since 2009. Within the past week, they have finally cleared out of Mogadishu, allowing minimal aid to reach the hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees who have migrated to the capital seeking better living conditions. However, they continue to interfere with the distribution of aid in the Somali countryside.

With the threat of Al-Shabab and citizens' desires to move their families to regions with higher prospects of aid, Somali refugees are walking hundreds of miles to seek shelter in Ethiopia and Kenya. These countries are already dealing with their own famine threats and the burden of over a half a million refugees has increased the gravity of the hunger crisis, extending its boundaries.

What must happen
The UN has estimated a total of $2.5 billion needed in aid, of which recent statistics show almost 54% has yet to be met. Numerous countries can be criticized for their slow delivery of aid for these people in need. It is important that governments take action now to help East Africans who are suffering from malnourishment and dehydration. Our action page will show you more ways that you can join in the fight to support increased aid for East Africa and oppose budget cuts for foreign aid.

What you can do
It’s easy for you to help.

Finding a solution is the responsibility of all nations. And it can start with you:

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by Priyanka Katumuluwa, Hearts & Minds volunteer
Copyrights: Entire website 1997 - 2015 by Hearts and Minds Network, Inc., This web page - http://www.heartsandminds.org/poverty/articles/famine.htm online August 17, 2011, latest changes August 18, 2011


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