East Africa crisis: HelpAge to scale up response


By Navdha Malhotra

Galgollo Guyo's cattle has died so now he sells firewood Galgollo Guyo's cattle has died so now he sells firewood Glyn Riley/HelpAge International 2011 85-year-old Galgollo Guyo lives in Borana, Ethiopia. On the days he does not receive food rations, he cuts trees and sells firewood to earn money.

He says: "When the market is good, I can sell firewood and get about 10 Birr. With 10 Birr, I am able to buy 1 kg of maize meal. This will last us for one day."

His family is surviving on one meal a day. "My wife prepares raw wheat boiled with water for our lunch and we drink tea at night."

"The worst humanitarian disaster in the world"

Galgollo Guyo and his family are among the 10 million people in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya affected by severe drought. The UN this week called the East Africa crisis "the worst humanitarian crisis in the world".

This week the situation worsened when the UN declared famine in two regions of southern Somalia - the first time a major famine has been announced since the one that hit the Somali region of Ethiopia in 2000.

HelpAge International has worked in Ethiopia for 15 years. This year we are involved in a project, with partner CAFOD and four other local NGOs, targeting 6,400 drought-affected households in Borana zone.

As part of the project, we are providing direct cash transfers to 4,800 households and employment opportunities for older people or their relatives by digging wells and re-instating wells and boreholes that have fallen into disrepair.

We will also help 1,600 families by providing livestock feed for their animals.

Alison Rusinow, HelpAge's country programme director in Ethiopia, says: "Older people are one of the most vulnerable people in this emergency because they tend to prioritise children and grandchildren when there is food available. With the drought of the past five years, older people are among the most malnourished."

Refugees' food rations getting smaller

To respond to the current emergency, HelpAge is making preparations to scale up its work and help more older people affected by the drought and famine.

The situation is particularly acute in the refugee camps in Dollo Ado, the Somali region in Ethiopia. Nearly 100,000 refugees have arrived from Somalia over the last few weeks.

We are currently at the camp and assessing the needs of older people in the area and identifying suitable partners to work with.

East Africa crisis: In Alison's words

How you can help

HelpAge's work is supported by our sister organisation Age UK. Please donate to Age UK's East Africa appeal for vulnerable older Ethiopians and their families affected by the drought.

Age UK is raising money together with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) for the East Africa Crisis. The DEC is a consortium of 14 aid agencies working together.

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Click here to donate to DEC appeal The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has launched an appeal for the drought crisis in East Africa. HelpAge will receive DEC money to help older people in the region. If you would like to help, please donate to the DEC East Africa appeal now.

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