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East Africa crisis: Six months on

25 Jan 2012

In July and September 2011, I took part in documenting the impact of the drought in the Horn of Africa in Ethiopia and Kenya. It was an eye-opening experience, seeing how climatic conditions, coupled with poor planning by governments and stakeholders can bring such misery and helplessness.

Thankfully, the photos and case studies that we collected stirred the emotions of many who gave funds to various appeals. Relief poured in and managed to save lives.

When the rains came

Come November and December, the short rains came. In most parts of Kenya, it brought relief as food was in abundance. In other parts, especially northern Kenya, the rains poured massively, causing floods. Mother Nature went to the other extreme.

Also, Kenya Defence Forces moved into Somalia to curb the militant group Al Shabaab. This caused heightened security within Kenya. Relief agencies have been forced to close shop in some parts of northern Kenya, such as Dadaab refugee camp where some attacks have happened.

Relief efforts hindered

Six months ago, stories were told of people flooding into Kenya and Ethiopia from Somalia in search of food. Older people who could not make the journey were left behind. Relief agencies could not operate in certain areas in the Horn of Africa due to risk of attack.

Despite the situation, we have managed to support many older people and their families. We are providing emergency aid to an estimated 32,000 people in Ethiopia, distributing thousands cash transfers to get people back on their feet and supplying food, water and healthcare to older people and their families, as well as water, animal feed and veterinary care for livestock. 

Six months later, there is an attempt to make the region safer. Hopefully, it will be possible for us working in the field of development to move into these regions and assist older people to live with dignity and provide safety nets against such calamities in the future.

East Africa crisis in pictures 

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Author profile

Gacheru Maina
Country: Kenya
Job title: Regional communications officer, HelpAge

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.