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Horn of Africa: the drought that no one talks about

The triple burden of women and girls

The Horn of Africa is a region typically and regularly tormented by drought and famine. Since 2015, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya have been hit by a sadly famous climatic phenomenon called El Niño that cancelled out the rainy seasons. This caused a severe drought which, in turn, caused the loss of crops, a severe lack of food and contributed to the spread of diseases such as cholera and severe forms of dysentery. More than 16 million people experienced severe food insecurity.

ActionAid intervened immediately in the following ways:

  • Distribution of basic necessities to more than 316,000 people, initially focusing on the supply of corn, rice, pulses and oil;
  • To stem the spread of diseases related to the use of non-potable water, it guaranteed the supply of drinking water to 59,600 people, repairing wells and pipes and supplying tanks for storage;
  • To meet the hygienic needs of women and girls, more than 5,000 hygiene kits were distributed, including soap, linen and sanitary towels.

A year later, the situation is still dramatic

Unfortunately, despite the interventions, due to unfavourable weather conditions, 14.6 million people still risk starvation and more than 690,000 children are severely malnourished. Unfortunately, worsening climate change means these food and water crises will become increasingly frequent and severe.

The triple burden of women

As almost always happens during emergencies, women are the ones most at risk: "women and girls in areas of Kenya affected by drought face increasingly long journeys simply to go and get water to drink, cook and wash , running the risk of becoming victims of violence and abuse along the way. In some cases, as a result of drought, women and girls carry a triple burden on their shoulders: they must try to survive, take care of their families and save themselves from violence", declared Ruth Masime, ActionAid Policy Manager in Kenya.

Emergency response and resilience

As with all emergencies, ActionAid’s approach consists of two lines of action: emergency response and long-term resilience. In order to combat the effects of climate change, it is essential to work on the ability of vulnerable communities to cope with drought. That is why ActionAid dedicates a significant portion of its work to training communities in order to improve agricultural practices, create alternative livelihoods and provide sustainable water sources.

Worth knowing

As of the end of September 2017, ActionAid's work has reached

  • 43,395 people in Ethiopia
  • 153,315 people in Kenya
  • 64,079 people in Somaliland

Amounting to a total of 260,789 people.