The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an appeal on Friday, seeking 13 million U.S. dollars to support nearly 475,000 people facing starvation in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
Fatoumata Nafo-Traore, regional Director for Africa called for an immediate and expansive response in order to prevent widespread drought conditions from triggering a humanitarian catastrophe as millions face starvation in the Horn of Africa.
“We need to act decisively, we need to act massively, and we need to act now if we are to prevent a repeat of the awful scenes of 2011,” Nafo-Traore said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
The charity said prolonged and worsening drought conditions across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya has left more than 11 million people facing severe hunger and are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Countries in the Horn of Africa are likely to see a rise in hunger and further decline of local livelihoods in the coming months, as farming families struggle with the knock-on effects of multiple droughts that hit the region this year.
“We are undoubtedly in a crisis, but the situation will even get worse, especially if the April rains perform poorly,” Nafo-Traoré said.
The situation is particularly severe in Somalia where nearly 40 percent of the population now needs some form of humanitarian assistance and where deaths have already been reported in the country’s north.
According to the charity, water sources have dried up in Kenya, leading to large-scale loss of livestock. In Ethiopia, the worst drought in half a century is further compounded by an influx of people fleeing Somalia.
“This is the worst situation we have seen in the region since 2011, when more than a quarter of a million people died in Somalia alone,” said Nafo-Traoré.
“We have an opportunity to prevent suffering of a similar scale, but only if we act now,” she added.
The IFRC is calling on its partners in the region and globally to increase their support for Red Cross and Red Crescent emergency operations that are already underway, but hindered by low levels of funding.
It said additional funding will allow volunteers and staff present in the worst affected areas to better respond to immediate humanitarian needs, as well as begin rolling out initiatives designed to strengthen longer-term resilience.