MORE than 16 million people are at risk of starvation in East Africa, and children are most at risk, aid agencies warned as they launched an emergency appeal for the region this week.
The crisis in the region is the result of the worst drought for more than half a century, as well as conflict (News, 10 March). Famine has already been declared in South Sudan (News, 24 February) — the first anywhere in the world in six years — but millions of people in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia are also at risk of starvation.
The chief executive of the UK Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), Saleh Saeed, said: “Hunger on a massive scale is looming across East Africa. More than 800,000 children under five are severely malnourished. Without urgent treatment, they are at risk of starving to death.
“We are hearing that families are so desperate for food that they are resorting to eating leaves to survive.”
The British Government has said that it will match pound-for-pound the first £5 million donated by the public to the DEC East Africa appeal.
DEC launched a separate appeal in December for Yemen, where two years of conflict have left half the population starving (News, 16 December).
The diocese of Chichester, which is linked to Nakuru, Nyahururu, and Kericho dioceses in Kenya, has already sent an emergency payment to help buy food for 94 congregations there. One of the worst-affected areas in Kenya is Baringo County, a semi-arid region that is home to nomadic tribes whose traditional pastoral lifestyle is now threatened by drought.
Chichester’s world mission officer, Canon Ian Hutchinson-Cervantes, said that water courses were being polluted by the carcasses of animals killed by drought and malnutrition.
“The diocese of Chichester’s Overseas Council has approved an emergency grant of £5000,” he said. “This will be sent directly to the diocese of Nakuru, which, in partnership with the Anglican Church of Kenya’s development services, will buy and distribute foodstuffs and other essential supplies to the drought-affected areas.”