27 Jul 2011

Somalia drought ‘definitely getting worse’

More than one million children have been displaced by the disaster in east Africa, and one charity tells Channel 4 News the situation in Somalia is “definitely getting worse”.

More than a million children have been displaced because of drought and conflict in East Africa (Reuters)

It is estimated that 11.6 million people are going hungry in the “triangle of death” that straddles Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Climate combined with conflict have hit Somlia particularly hard – the UN has already declared a famine in parts of the country.

Despite desperate pleas for governments and the public to donate more money, aid agencies say there remains a significant gap between resources available and need on the ground.

Speaking from Somalia, Save the Children’s Sonia Zambakides told Channel 4 News the situation was “most definitely getting worse” on a daily basis.

“We’re seeing whole communities in absolute crisis and children are getting weaker,” she said.

“Somalia has been a chronic emergency for many years but the drought has now tipped people over the edge.”

Kenya, where around 2.4 million people are now going hungry, declared the drought a national disaster in late May.

The UN has categorised the situation in east Africa’s largest economy as an emergency, one level short of a famine.

Yusuf is in a camp in north eastern Somalia where Save the Children is working:

"Four months ago our animals began to die because of the drought. I had 40 goats and cows and they all died, we had nothing left so we were forced to flee.

"I was left alone with my three small children so I decided to come to Bosaso because it's safer here. I paid $30 to get a truck ride north. On the way we were robbed by bandits. It was midnight and my children were terrified, we lost everything, all our money and even my mobile phone I used to communicate with my family. I had to plea for people to give us food along the way.

"I'm scared that my children won't have enough food. My husband is dead, I'm trying to get a job cleaning or doing anything, but there's no work and, even if I find something, who's going to take care of my children when I'm away? I have to stay here at whatever cost – everything back home is gone."

British contribution

Britons have donated more than £30m to the east Africa crisis.

The Disasters Emergency Committee’s Brendan Paddy told Channel 4 News he was “incredibly pleased” with the response.

But as the need gets worse in east Africa, donations are likely to plateau.

The British Government has been praised for its response to the disaster and has put together a £52m aid package for the victims.

But there are calls for other international governments to up their response to the crisis before famine is declared in Kenya and Ethiopia and the situation further deteriorates in Somalia.

Click here to donate to the Save The Children East Africa appeal. Or to donate to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal, click here, call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, or donate over the counter at any post office or high street bank.