Many observers of the crisis in the Horn of Africa have asked what progress has been made since the last famine. As a part of our FWD public awareness campaign we’ve been going through some of the stories from our partners in the field to help lend a face to stories of famine.

We will be showcasing some of these stories here on the ImpactBlog to help readers to see how assistance has made a difference and how empowering individuals with tools needed for self-reliance has saved lives.

Below are two contrasting stories from USAID partner Concern Worldwide. The first shows a community severely impacted the current food crisis; the second describes a community that has been able to withstand the severe conditions due in part to early interventions.

Sharing Loss in Marsabit by Elizabeth Wright, Concern Worldwide US

Today, 3.5 million Kenyans are in need of immediate food assistance, and 1.2 million people are no longer able to meet their basic survival needs.

Sora and his family are among those. He used to have a herd of 75 cattle: all but five of those have starved to death. A pile of their bones lies in a field beyond his home, all that remains of a way of life and the assets he has spent his life nurturing. He is a member of the Borana tribe–a pastoralist community in which resources are shared in hard times. But everyone is suffering now—and loss is all there is to share.

“We used to eat twice a day. We had meat and milk from our cattle, and sometimes millet. Now, we depend on handouts, anything we can get, and we are lucky if we can eat once a day. Many times, my wife and I do not have enough to feed ourselves and the 4 children, so we give the children the food, and we only drink water and sometimes we are eating leaves.” Sora has lived through many droughts, but this one is the worst he has ever experienced.

Continue reading Sharing Loss in Marsabit

Keeping Moyale from Tipping Point by Kirk Prichard & Wendy Erasmus, Concern Worldwide

Moyale is in the far north of Kenya, right on the border of Ethiopia and a few hundred kilometers from Somalia. This is the exact region where the current drought has had its most devastating impact, killing up to 40 percent of cattle, which are the lifeblood of these pastoralist communities. Reports indicate that 80 percent of the surviving livestock have left the north entirely in search of pasture. And it is now estimated that more than 75 percent of the population in the northern areas is “food insecure” and in need of emergency rations.

Despite being located in the epicenter of the drought, Moyale tells a different story. Statistics aren’t the best way to describe a very human tragedy, but they illustrate a compelling point.

For example, in Moyale, the rate of “global acute malnutrition” (GAM) among children under five is 13.7 percent: a threshold of 15 percent indicates a humanitarian emergency. In neighboring Marsabit and northwest Wajir, GAM rates are at 27 percent, almost double the international emergency threshold.

Simply put, children in Moyale are better nourished and thereby healthier and more resistant to illness and death than their neighbors.

What has made this difference in parts of Moyale, an area that has similar economic, agricultural and climate conditions as its neighbors? Early indications suggest that it is in part due to disaster risk reduction programming and early interventions…

Continue reading Keeping Moyale from the Tipping Point