Donations from the UK public to the DEC's appeal, to help people suffering from severe food shortages in East Africa, have reached a milestone £15 million.
The worst drought in 60 years has devastated cattle and crops in parts of East Africa creating a humanitarian emergency, with problems expected to be compounded by a poor coming harvest.
More than 10 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and the newly-formed Republic of South Sudan have been left in need of food, water and emergency healthcare.
Chief Executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee Brendan Gormley said:
"Desperation has forced thousands to leave their homes to seek help in the towns or camps, but some of the most vulnerable have been unable to make the long and arduous journey. Children and older people with weakened immune systems are often not strong enough to reach our agencies to access the care they desperately need. In some areas of Borana in Ethiopia for example, aid agencies report that the proportion of older people has risen from around 5 per cent to up to half the population."
"The more money we raise the more lives we can save in the short term, and the more help we can give people to rebuild their lives in the long term. It's vital that people keep giving."
Acute malnutrition has reached 37 per cent in some parts of north-east Kenya, more than double the 15 per cent emergency threshold set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Refugees are dying of causes related to malnutrition either during the journey or very shortly after arrival at aid camps.
In Kenya, more than 1,400 people a day, eighty per cent of whom are women and children, continue to arrive in the Dadaab refugee camp near the border with Somalia. Many arrive after days or weeks of walking.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee Somalia due to the drought and conflict. Rising food prices, even in cities and towns, across the region have also added to the food crisis. Many families have been left unable to afford even one proper meal.
The DEC East Africa Appeal has been presented by actor Jason Isaacs, actor and comedian Lenny Henry, broadcaster and journalist Kate Adie, and actress Fay Ripley.
To make a donation to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal visit http://www.dec.org.uk, call the 24 hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word CRISIS to 70000.
Stay up to date with developments in East Africa, the emergency response and the fundraising efforts with the DEC on twitter: http://twitter.com/decappeal or become a fan of 'Disasters-Emergency-Committee-DEC' on Facebook.
Notes to editors:
- The DEC member agencies are: ActionAid, Age UK, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.
- To make a postal donation make cheques payable to 'DEC and mail to 'PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA'.
- Donations can be made at any high street bank.
- Donate at a Post Office by quoting Freepay 1562.
- To donate £5 by text send the word CRISIS to 70000. The full £5 will go to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal. Donors must be 16 years or over and have bill payers permission. Texts are free and donations will be added to the bill.
Longer term work
In addition to our immediate response in the face of this current food crisis CARE International emphasises the need to tackle the long-term, underlying causes of poverty. We have been present in the region for over 25 years and are helping families to break the cycle of hunger and to adapt to the changing climate and recurring droughts.
Our ongoing work in the region includes:
- Maintenance, protection and development of water points and wells.
- Working with women in Mandera, Kenya to revive traditional food preservation techniques.
- Vaccination of animals to prevent diseases breaking out as they congregate at remaining water points.
- Helping families have more consistent sources of income by supporting them in diversifying their work.